Opinion: Honest win or Cheat, Buttigieg lost Iowa.
Seeds of doubt sewn through ties to Shadow Inc have cost Buttigieg any viability and credibility moving forward.
It’s been just over 24 hours since the close of the Iowa Caucus and we still don’t know the full results, or the damage done to this election and our Democratic process. At the center of the issue is an app, developed by a little known company called Shadow Inc, the Iowa Democratic Party, and Pete Buttigieg, and I believe that now is the time for Pete Buttigieg to step down to try to save the 2020 election.
According to their website, the ominous sounding name “Shadow” is meant to be comforting, “When a light is shining, Shadows are a constant companion,” their website declares, stating their vision of self as a long term tech infrastructure to the Democratic Party... and the progressive community at large. And Shadow consists of “A collection of political campaign and technology veterans who helped build infrastructure for Hillary for America and the Democratic National Committee.” But what Democratic Party? The party its self seems to be split and at odds with itself, with moderates, centrists, corporate establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton and the 2016 DNC establishment at the very center of the war for identity. With their ties to Hillary, it’s hard to see many being objective towards more progressive candidates like, dare I say: Bernie Sanders. But I’m not here to rehash the 2016 elections. I’m here to talk about what happened last night in Iowa and how we got here.
To understand what happened requires an understanding of what happened in 2016. Bernie lost Iowa to Hillary by one quarter of a percent, and the Sanders Campaign wanted an audit. The why is irrelevant, the result is that this pushed for greater transparency in future election cycles. In the past, Iowa only released final results in the delegate count, but in an effort for greater transparency they were going to release 1st round caucusing results to help credit candidates who received support and what margin they received that support as. The changes that came about, the most crucial of which being reporting both the first and then the second alignments of the caucuses, were an attempt to create greater transparency, and to make the job easier on caucus organizers, they hired Shadow Inc to create an app for reporting purposes.
In the days and weeks leading up to the caucus, however, there was virtually no training or support for organizers to ensure they were able to download the app and understood the process in using it. There was also little in the way of testing and security vetting, as reported by AP News. All of this, combined with an error in the programming code of the app, the system quickly failed, and they halted results reporting while simultaneously shifting to backup reporting systems via a call in phoneline. But as many watching the news and Twitter became aware, most famously when the caucus chairman of a precinct in Iowa’s Story County was hung up on by someone at the Iowa Democratic Party while attempting to report his precinct’s results after being on hold for over an hour.
It’s obvious that Shadow Inc and the Iowa Democratic Party is at the center of this debacle, but why am I so hard on Mayor Pete and where did this about Hillary come from? Pete almost immediately declared a victory in Iowa, despite not knowing any real results. He has obviously felt comfortable enough to announce this despite trailing 6 points to Sanders in average polling according to Real Clear Politics. That’s incredibly ballsy and confident considering more seasoned politicians came out with tact stating they felt good about the results but stopped shy of stating victory “until all the results were in.” One reason they wait until the results are in is out of respect for the voting public, so I find it rather audacious a candidate would presume to be a victor with zero percent reporting.
So, let’s look at some facts: According to FEC documents, Pete For America, inc spent $42,500 on software rights and subscriptions to Shadow Inc in two installments on the same day. The CEO for Shadow Inc is Gerard Niemira, who served as Senior Product Manager and Director of Product for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Niemira also co-founded GroundBase, which describes its self as “an opinionated technology platform for organizers, activists, and advocates to organize their voters, volunteers, and donors.” GroundBase was purchased by ACRONYM in January of 2019 just before Shadow Inc was created. ACRONYM is headed by Tara McGowan, a former journalist who became Obama’s 2012 campaign’s digital producer. Although ACRONYM is trying to distance themselves from Shadow and the Iowa Debacle, Tara McGowan tweeted out her excitement for his campaign in January of 2019, and she is married to Michael Halle, who is a political consultant that has worked as a lead organizer for Hillary Clinton in Iowa and as a senior strategist for Pete Buttigieg for the 2020 election.
I’m not going to draw the tin foil conspiracy line that has already grown on Twitter. The point I’m trying to make is that this exists. Harvey LeRoy “Lee” Atwater, a political consultant and strategist for the Republican Party, adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr, and RNC Chairman once said, “Perception is 90% of reality.” What the public perceives to be true, regardless of the truth, is what is real in matters of trust and integrity. As we now sit, with 71% of the precincts reporting and Pete Buttigieg leading 26.8% to 25.2% after making the bold claims just twenty four short hours ago that he was victorious and pushing that narrative through today, the perception is that he’s a cheat, and don’t take my word for it. You only have to go so far as twitter to see the hashtag #MayorCheat is trending.