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The Iowa Results

In a throwback to times when Potomac Fever was a coronavirus on my time, I watched multiple streams of news reporting on the Iowa caucus. The waiting-for-Godot nature strangely enhanced the rapture. Normally I’d be constructing ill-informed reads on the fly from some Davenport polling station result.

In the long term, I hope all Democrats can learn from the fiasco that centralized rule changes sometimes lead to unexpected results.

I haven’t seen a screenshot of the villainous app in question. It’s easy to guess at least in part what happened: a UIUX failure. Beyond simple usability issues how many second order ones popped up? The party changed a rule – this year caucus-goers can’t switch candidates after a first choice if that one is “viable” (for delegates). This gets coded in the software. A bazillion county officials don’t know or don’t care that a rule has changed, the software throws back an error…and you’re instantly onto customer support. They didn’t write an adequate test suite first. The Russians weren’t hacking the system, local party tabulators were (unintentionally). Complexity itself, with or without software, is always going to make things harder. Here’s a case (Marion precinct 5) where the officials are actively wrong in the administration of the rules. What is software supposed to do?

And so the ethanol subsidy dies, not with a bang but a whimper. That’s the biggest loser of the night.

When the impeachment proceedings started I thought Biden would be really hurt – his is the generic, mild and pervasive corruption Washington has done for years. I’ll take that over the rapacious, deep, deliberate corruption of Trump. Still, he was the vice freaking president of the last administration. There are enormous advantages in name recognition as well as favors rolled up for eight years. Polling suggested it wasn’t taking an effect, maybe Dems were rallying to him because instead of in spite of the Impeachment proceedings.

But fourth place is no place to finish. The latest institutional-inevitable candidate of a major party, Jeb Bush, finished in sixth place in Iowa, and Biden had more riding on his performance. Bernie wins New Hampshire and Nevada, and all the other subthreads are closed. The Warren support will slowly drain away to the ur-socialist instead of the more come lately one. So it’s Bernie versus…

Buttigieg? That seems hard to see happen when there is another mayor in the race that governed effectively a city almost 90x the size (8.6m v. 100k for New York City versus South Bend).

Klobuchar? I think as a whole package the strongest candidate but appears to be on track to oblivion absent a decisive finish in Iowa. Too little too late. A widely-agreeable pick for VP.

Someone new? Rumors of Kerry jumping in the race were quickly denied, and it’s simply too late in light of the 80 (?) billion gorilla lurking, Bloomberg.

The matchup of Bernie versus Billionaire is too much to have scripted. Absent an Obama endorsement of someone, this seems pretty locked in. Will be an interesting match and he could be an excellent president.

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