As a concept, the Iowa caucuses are well past their expiration date, but that doesn’t stop our corporate media from cherrypicking metrics to create scenarios that will encourage clicks and buttress a candidate preferred by their corporate owners.
A generous reading of even the preliminary votes suggested a tie between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg in the final delegate count, which is the number that matters. From the start, Sanders led the first alignment count and final alignment count in pure votes, which are the numbers that should matter.
Nonetheless, since Tuesday morning, the media has portrayed Buttigieg as the winner of the caucuses, because he held a few more state delegate equivalents than Sanders. The state delegates represent the voters from the precinct level at the state convention, where the delegates to the Democratic National Convention will be chosen. Or something like that.
The state delegate count is an essentially meaningless interim measure between the numbers that matter: the popular vote and the national delegate count. However, by picking and publicizing the one metric in which Buttigieg leads, the corporate media chose its own winner of the Iowa caucus, a nonthreatening mediocre white guy who is much more likely to weigh in on the side of their owners’ interests. This gave Buttigieg a massive amount of free media exposure, including multiple interviews across morning news/talk shows, and bragging rights leading up to New Hampshire’s primary.
As of this morning, three days after the caucus, Sanders has increased his lead in the popular votes and caught up in the state delegate count. Buttigieg has won 550 state delegates and Sanders has won 547. Interestingly, the New York Times is no longer reporting how many national delegates each candidate has earned. Color me cynical, but I’d guess the numbers would show Sanders in the lead.
How the NYT displayed the results: