‘Io-what the hell?’ Late-night TV hosts rip into the Iowa caucuses


The Iowa Democratic caucuses had everyone confused Tuesday night, including late-night comedians, who had a field day with the event’s chaotic spiral fueled by delayed results, a faulty voting app and premature celebrations.

Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Conan O’Brien and Stephen Colbert all dedicated segments to “the great state of confusion, formerly known as Iowa,” poking fun at past and present Democratic candidates, the “outmoded” voting process, elderly Iowans and Iowa itself.

No winner emerged following the political meltdown, but — as noted by all the hosts — there were plenty of losers.

“Hey, Iowa, how did you beef this?” Meyers said on “Late Night.” “You had four years to get ready, and this was the result? This is worse than the husband who comes home on Valentine’s Day with a flower from the neighbor’s yard, a bag of Skittles and a card that says, ‘Sorry for your loss.’”

In a “Late Show” segment called “Io-What the hell?” Colbert wondered, “How did Iowa get so thoroughly caucus-blocked?” and questioned the competency of the state’s Democratic Party.


“They can’t even count farmers holding their hands up in a high school gym!” he quipped. “What is happening? Where are we? Is this hell?”

Most pinned the debacle on a voting app that was intended to make the process more efficient, but ended up doing the opposite due to glitches and coding issues.

“Why they used an app, I have no idea,” Kimmel said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “I watch these caucuses. The average age of the participants is probably in the mid-Bernie Sanders. ... For these people, ‘app’ isn’t short for ‘application.’ It’s short for ‘applesauce.’ What did you expect was going to happen?”

Meanwhile, Meyers and Colbert took aim at the app’s mysterious name, Shadow, given by its creators at Shadow Inc.


“People already think this process is shady,” Meyers said. “That’s like calling a dating app ‘Axe Murderer.’”

“The app was supposed to count the votes and, I think, kill James Bond?” Colbert joked.

Precinct chairs around the state report problems with the computer application intended to relay results to party headquarters.

Feb. 3, 2020

On “The Tonight Show,” Fallon — who referred to the caucuses as the Fyre Festival of politics — used the opportunity to squeeze in a dig at another tech company with a sketchy reputation: Facebook.

“Even Mark Zuckerberg was like, ‘Mm, seems shady,’” the host said, taking a swipe at the social media platform’s embattled CEO.

On “Conan,” O’Brien turned the spotlight on everyday Iowans — particularly one voter who was stunned to discover current Democratic presidential race leader Pete Buttigieg is gay in a clip that has since gone viral.


“It’s shocking for a lot of reasons,” O’Brien said of the woman’s revelation. “You’d think voters would have known more about the candidates they’re voting for. Even worse? Check this out. This was not an isolated incident.”

Cue a reel of O’Brien’s own exclusive “raw footage” from the caucuses, which parodied the moment with actors who appeared clueless when informed that Elizabeth Warren is a woman, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are both over the age of 70 and Barack Obama was (and still is) black for both of his presidential terms.

Several high-profile Democrats, including Warren, Biden, Sanders, Obama and Hillary Clinton, were mentioned on the late-night circuit. But no one got more heat than Buttigieg, who came out a few steps ahead of Sanders as the delayed results continued to trickle in.

“With 62% of precincts reporting, the winner of the Iowa caucus is, uh, ‘La La Land,’ actually,” Kimmel quipped. “It would appear, based on the still-not-final numbers, that the winner of the caucus will be either Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders.”

But the former Indiana mayor had already started his victory lap on social media, prompting Colbert and Meyers to make the same timely comparison.


“Mayor Pete, don’t tweet before the results are official,” Meyers scolded. “No one is victorious yet. At the end of the third quarter of the Super Bowl, the 49ers didn’t tweet, ‘By all indications we are going to Disney World!’”

During last weekend’s big game, the San Francisco 49ers had the lead at halftime, but ended up losing after a fourth-quarter surge from the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Good for you, Mr. Mayor, but that’s like the 49ers coming out in the second half and going, ‘The majority of the quarters are in, and they show our team winning 20 to 10,’” Colbert echoed. “‘I’m going to Disney World!’”