The Des Moines Register has just called for an full audit of the Democratic Iowa caucus. Note that they’re calling for one only on the Democratic side, mostly because nobody who is fundamentally serious takes seriously the various conspiracy theories about the Republican caucuses. Indeed, the DMR uses the Iowa Republican party as an example of how to handle controversies such as the one that is currently roiling the Iowa Democratic party.
The basic problems that the DMR are highlighting here are as follows: while we know how many people voted in the Democratic caucus*, we don’t know how many voted for Hillary Clinton, how many voted for Bernie Sanders, and if any voted for Martin O’Malley**. Couple that with the razor-thin delegate margin and the usual reports of various sorts of Election Night shenanigans, chicaneries, and general skulduggery, and you’re left with… well, this is not actually about whether or not Bernie Sanders is ahead by a little, or whether Hillary Clinton is, is it?
No, what this is really about is about how much the Democratic party collectively kind of hates their nominal front-runner. Hillary Clinton simply can’t get people to like her, apparently. And that really does matter, in politics. If Bill Clinton had been in this exact same situation everybody involved would be jumping all over themselves to get Bill out of this situation, simply because Bill Clinton can rather easily get people to like him. Then again, if Bill Clinton had been able to run in 2016 somehow he’d have won the Iowa caucuses by about twenty points.
Note, by the way, that Hillary Clinton will probably still get the nomination. Bernie Sanders is only really attractive in comparison to Hillary Clinton, and if he has a transcendentally awesome ground game apparatus up and running it’s news to the people who follow this stuff. But Hillary Clinton winning the nomination in 2016 will be like what would have happened if Hillary Clinton had won the nomination in 2008***: a nasty primary followed by a grim general election on the Democratic side.
Fine by me!
*Which is to say: considerably fewer than the ones that voted in the Republican one.
**For all we know, that 1% was a rounding error.
***Imagine, for a moment, a world where the Democratic establishment had decided to give Hillary Clinton the nomination instead of Barack Obama. She still would have won, I think – the financial crisis sunk McCain – and she certainly would have kept Barack Obama out of the Executive Branch. Whic means that, whether or not she won in 2012, in that 2016 the Democratic front-runner would have been, unquestionably… Senator Barack Obama. Or, even worse nightmare for the Right: Governor Barack Obama. And he and his acolytes would be even more insufferable at this point.