Whatever the eventual outcome of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses — and whether or not anyone in our conspiracy-addled country believes in the veracity of the officially certified result — there is one clear winner of the vote, and that is President Donald Trump.
That’s because the night was a disaster across the board. It was a disaster for the Democratic Party of Iowa, which suffered a total meltdown before the country and the world. It was a disaster for the Democratic National Committee, which showed that it was incapable of overseeing a functional election. It was a disaster for the crowded and jumbled field of Democratic presidential candidates, which lost a valuable opportunity to achieve some early clarity before heading into next Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. And it was a disaster for American democracy, which added another faceplant to the hanging chads of 2000 and the winning-the-White-House-while-losing-by-nearly-three-million-votes absurdity of 2016.
It was a night of chaos that set up what is bound to be a week of chaos, with individual campaigns touting their own internal numbers and casting doubt on those of the other candidates. Meanwhile, once official numbers are released — assuming they are eventually released — the losers will object, alleging foul play or sloppiness so widespread that the vote should be disregarded. And really, who will be able to blame them? The results weren’t released slowly and carefully over several hours, precinct by precinct. They were almost totally embargoed all night long, raising questions that no explanation will be able to dispel. The result is bound to be tainted.
And that is why Trump is the true winner. Jeb Bush was right to call him the chaos candidate early on in the 2016 primary season. Bush meant that Trump sowed chaos. He did, and he does. But it was also true in another sense.