When the results of Iowa Democrats' presidential caucuses were delayed in a historic debacle, "Iowa's place in the nominating process became the story," writes Dan Balz, chief political correspondent for The Washington Post, reflecting a strong thread in the commentary that filled the vacuum created by lack of results.

"Iowans have prided themselves on their first-in-the-nation caucuses. Voters in the state have taken their role seriously, and over the years, a culture has developed here of citizens who turn out to see and evaluate the candidates firsthand," Balz writes from experience. "But whatever the culture that exists in evaluating candidates, Iowa has also come under strong and recurring criticism for exercising outsize influence on the nominating process. This predominantly white state, where agriculture is a dominant industry, is far from representative of the nation. The absence of a larger minority population, especially for a Democratic Party that has become increasingly diverse in its makeup, rubs raw many non-Iowa Democrats." The state has 41 delegates; 1,991 are needed to win.

Much of the griping is about the caucus system, which requires hours of commitment and thus disenfranchises some voters. But there seem to be more complaints about the nature of Iowa, a small state with a large rural population: 36 percent of the total in the 2010 census, making it the 12th most rural. But Iowa is the state with the highest literacy rate, 99.5%, and its Democrats resemble the rest of their party in one big way, Ron Brownstein writes for The Atlantic: "Democrats in Iowa are improving their performance in the urban centers that are driving most of the state’s population growth, while the party is simultaneously losing ground in the small towns and rural areas that are either stagnant or losing population." That's a trend that could affect the results, whatever they are.

"Critics contend that the system unfairly dilutes the influence of large counties and favors rural places, because a county doesn’t receive more delegates if more people show up on caucus night," Brownstein writes. "That means if turnout surges in the big counties, those new voters won’t generate more delegates for the candidates they support."

Whatever the results of the caucus and the nominating process, the Democratic nominee may not come back, Tim Alberta reports for Politico: "After decades spent at the center of both parties’ strategies for winning the Electoral College, Iowa is suddenly an afterthought. Its six electoral votes no longer seem essential, not when states like Texas and Arizona and Georgia — longtime GOP strongholds — all were decided by tighter margins in 2016, and all have demographic tailwinds that benefit the Democratic Party." President Trump won the state  by 9.5 percentage points, and in 2018, Republicans performed even better in rural areas than they did in the 2014 cycle, one of the best in modern history for the party," and retained statewide offices while increasing their registration.

The debacle could have broader ramifications if it leads to abolition or rescheduling of the caucuses, Ryan McCrimmon reports for Politico's Morning Agriculture: "Iowa's traditional status as the leadoff hitter has driven presidential contenders to ensure they were on solid ground with the corn lobby on the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires certain levels of biofuels like ethanol to be blended into the U.S. gasoline pool. But in 2016, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won the state's GOP primary contest despite his opposition to RFS. Now Monday's chaos has ignited calls for Iowa to be bumped from its primary perch (and for scrapping the caucus format altogether)."