Amidst a canned poll and a faulty app, the South Bend Mayor’s poll numbers came at a cost.
On Feb. 1, two days before the Iowa caucuses, it was abruptly announced that the final poll by the Des Moines Register would not have its results released. This came after a complaint by a senior Buttigieg campaign official received word from a supporter that Buttigieg was not among the candidates listed in the latest poll that was taken. The Des Moines Register was unable to isolate this case, and as such, pulled the plug and did not release this poll. This was a crafty play on Buttigieg’s part.
The Des Moines Register, in conjunction with CNN and Selzer and Co., has put out polls on numerous occasions in this election season, and none of them has had issues or complaints. This issue was apparently a simple one: they increased the font size and Buttigieg was apparently left off on some of the interview scripts, but, after seeing the results for the unreleased poll that showed Bernie with 22 percent, Warren with 18 percent, Buttigieg with 16 percent and Biden with 13 percent, Buttigieg had a vested interest in pulling the plug on a poll that had him in third, especially when that poll would be a major talking point heading into caucus night that could depress his supporter turnout in favor of other candidates who could reach viability and pushed the media narrative away from him.
While Buttigieg claimed victory on the night of the caucuses amid no results, his strong showing with 26.2 percent of the vote and narrow margin of victory of 0.01 percent contradicted the Des Moines Register poll by 10 points, a sizable difference to betray right before caucus night. Maybe there was some veracity to his claim about being omitted after all, but how strong could his support be if supporters did not state their preference in the poll themselves?
That was not the only interesting connection Buttigieg had on caucus night. After complaints about an app that caucus chairs had to use to report results failed spectacularly, it also became clear that the private company that created the app without any sort of vetting or security testing, Shadow, donated to the Buttigieg campaign. While this should not affect the results as they were manually validated by the Iowa Democratic Party, it is still a complete conflict of interest.
This app that was used to send full vote totals for counting was made by a company with a clear candidate preference, and since no security testing occurred, for all we know there could have been logic that was specifically included to increase Buttigieg’s totals. Due to the manual validation that was done before finally announcing the results, this was not the case, but without any testing, who knows?
This level of security through obscurity by the Iowa Democratic Party is exactly how someone (inside the country this time) could have meddled with the integrity of the elections. This is simply a ridiculous oversight on the part of the party, and should not happen again. As someone who breaks applications for a living, I know that most of them have poor security at best, and without any validation they should not be used in the first nominating contest that on any normal year would have led to candidates dropping out.