CNN  — 

When it initially started to become clear – right around 10 p.m. ET – that something had gone drastically wrong with the reporting of the Iowa caucus results, the initial reaction of the state party was, um, understated.

They were conducting “quality control” to ensure the results were totally good! Nothing to see here! Better to be a few minutes late than a few points wrong!

At that moment, and literally every moment between then and now, the Iowa Democratic Party has demonstrated a deep misunderstanding of the stakes of this vote count that they so clearly have botched. This is the first vote of the 2020 presidential election we are talking about! The eyes of the country (and the world) are on them. And somehow, they seem not to get that.

The latest example of this what’s-the-big-deal approach came Tuesday morning when, already being pilloried for their inability to report the vote count, Iowa Democrats announced that they would release the majority of the votes by 5 p.m. ET.

Say what? The “majority?” What exactly does that entail? Like 95%? Or 51%?

According to Mandy McClure, the state party’s communications director, the latter number is closer to reality. McClure confirmed to the Des Moines Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel that around 50% of the precinct tallies would be reported Tuesday afternoon. “Moving forward – just like we would would have on caucus night – we will continue to release results as we are able to,” added McClure. “We are also executing our plans and procedures to gather the paper documents and chasing any additional precincts to report results.”

Is this real life? After not being able to announce results on the night of the caucuses (or the morning after) and conducting a master class in whatever the opposite of crisis communications is, the state party has arrived at the genius solution of releasing half of the vote totals 18 hours after the actual caucuses were held? Who are the rocket scientists who came up with this plan?

“I just don’t understand what that means to release half of the data,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday after a town hall in Keene, New Hampshire. “So I think they ought to get it together and release all of the data, that’s what we need.”

The truth is that releasing only half or slightly more than half of the precinct results will likely add to the confusion and uncertainty here. Which precincts are they releasing? Are the precincts being released representative of the broader result? Why did they decide to release the precinct data they did? When – today, tomorrow, next week? – will we see the full result?

This isn’t all on the Iowa Democratic Party, of course. The Democratic National Committee needed to have stepped in long before this went from a curiosity to a debacle to try to restore order. The fact that the attempt to triage all of this was to release almost no details of what went wrong and then decide to release only half the actual data speaks to a deep mismanagement issue at the heart of the Democrats’ flagship committee.

And here’s the thing. This isn’t about me. Or journalism. It’s much broader than that. Staffers spent, literally, the last two years of their lives putting together operations designed to help their candidate win the Iowa caucuses. Candidates ground it out on the, uh, ground in hopes of using a strong Iowa showing to springboard them into contention in New Hampshire and beyond.

All of that hard work is now, not for naught, but for a hell of a lot less. And that’s a very bad thing. Not to mention the fact that it still remains decidedly unclear how the Iowa Democratic Party will spool out all the results, how they will explain the discrepancies that led to this delay and whether or not voters and the candidates will believe that, despite the problems, this was a fairly conducted vote and result.

This is all bad. And what’s worse is that the Iowa – and national – Democratic Party apparatus still doesn’t seem to grasp that.