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Put Iowa caucuses out of their misery. Results delay nails home why.

When asked why Iowa always goes first in the presidential nomination game, state officials often say their voters take their civic responsibilities especially seriously.

That they do. Now, if the party officials could just count votes.

This year’s “unacceptable” delay in reporting the results of Monday’s Democratic caucuses, as state party leader Troy Price put it, is an egregious electoral dysfunction that further undermines Iowa’s claim to privileged status. It’s also the latest in a string of issues that have plagued the quaint tradition.

Republican caucus chaos in 2012

Eight years ago, Iowa Republicans thought Mitt Romney had won. Two weeks later, however, Rick Santorum was named the victor. In the interim, Romney had comfortably won the New Hampshire primary, perhaps benefiting from the traditional “bounce” afforded the Iowa winner.

In 2016, a tight race and questions about the count on the Democratic side started an ongoing feud between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

This year’s meltdown has, quite understandably, increased calls for ditching Iowa’s caucuses. Having one state always take the lead is unfair. Caucuses are more complex and less democratic than primaries. Rule changes made this year’s balloting even more convoluted, and it turned out there wasn’t an app for that.

University of Iowa students hold up numbered cards while they caucus on Feb. 3, 2020, in Iowa City.

OPPOSING VIEW:Kill the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses? Wait a Hawkeye minute.

Whatever its defenders say, Iowa does no better than any other state would if it it had the candidates for months at a time. Excluding Jimmy Carter, the lone incumbent president forced into a party caucus, Iowa is 50% at picking the eventual nominee.

At times, Iowa almost seems to strive for comical contrarianism. Republicans in 1980, for instance, chose George H.W. Bush, who then lost the nomination. Eight years later, after he had served two terms as vice president, they relegated him to a distant third place with just 18.6% of the vote. He then went on to win the nomination and the election.

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