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DES MOINES - Iowa Democrats should consider altering their presidential caucus procedures to look more like the vote conducted by Republicans, a longtime party insider said Friday.
The close and contested results of Monday's Democratic caucuses should cause some soul-searching within the party, said Brad Anderson, a political consultant who directed President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign in Iowa and who has worked on multiple Democratic campaigns here.
Anderson, who also suggested a commission be formed to examine the Democratic caucuses, made the comments Friday during taping of Iowa Public Television's 'Iowa Press,” which will air this weekend.
'I think it is fair to say, ‘OK, some of these things need to change moving forward,' ” Anderson said, according to an IPTV transcript. 'I think the Democratic Party honestly should consider, at least consider a straw poll format like the Republicans do.”
The closest margin of victory and second-highest turnout combined to stress the Democratic caucuses statewide Monday night.
According to results published by the Iowa Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton edged Bernie Sanders, but Sanders' campaign has expressed concerns that some of the precinct results are inaccurate.
Matt Paul, director of Clinton's campaign in Iowa, wrote Friday on the social media website Medium that Clinton's caucus victory is not in dispute, saying even if all the precincts being reviewed are overturned in Sanders' favor, Clinton still will wind up with more delegates.
Paul said the party is reviewing 11 precincts, with about 1.8 state delegate equivalents at stake. The party said Tuesday that Clinton defeated Sanders by about 3.8 state delegate equivalents.
'Even if the Sanders campaign were to win all of their challenges - the marginal bump they receive in support would not be enough to overcome Hillary Clinton's win margin. Those are just the facts,” Paul wrote.
The Iowa Democratic Party confirmed it is examining results at some precincts. The party did not immediately respond to a question about whether Paul's accounting of the review is accurate.
'Both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns have flagged a very small number of concerns for us, and we are looking at them all on a case-by-case basis,” Josh Levitt, the party's press secretary, said in an emailed statement. 'We are still in the process of gathering information and speaking with local leaders.”
The Democrats' caucus-night procedures make it difficult to produce a traditional recount. Instead of casting a ballot, like Republicans do in their caucuses, Democrats organize into groups supporting each candidate, then reshuffle if some candidates do not earn enough support.
'The one thing that is troubling is in a close race there should be some kind of recount procedure,” Anderson said. 'And right now, because of the way it is done on the Democratic side, it's just not possible. We don't have ballots.”
Anderson also expressed concerns that some precinct locations were too small for the number of Democrats who turned out. He said, for instance, his precinct moved its caucus to an elementary school parking lot because the gymnasium was not big enough. He also said some precinct leaders were insufficiently trained.
'So I think we need to form a commission that takes a look at it, the same way the Republicans did in 2012,” Anderson said. 'I think they are very fair questions.”
Roughly 170,000 Iowans participated in each of the parties' caucuses; that is the second-most ever for Democrats, and the most for Republicans.
Craig Robinson, a former Republican Party of Iowa political director who also worked on Steve Forbes' 2000 presidential campaign in Iowa, said on 'Iowa Press” that the state parties should continue to work together to ensure a smooth caucus process, and that work should start immediately.
'Close elections always magnify the problems, and I would hope that, and I think that the parties need to work together for the next four years, not just in the year of the caucus, and I think there are things that they could do together,” Robinson said. 'There needs to be some existing infrastructure built. That's my problem is all the eyes of the world are on us for this one night, and we're putting things together for one-time use. And I think there needs to be more of a long-term infrastructure built. ”