By Tank Murdoch

(TNS) After weeks of reports indicating that a panicked Democratic Party establishment was seeking to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign — again — it appears as though his team is preparing to strike back.

In a report by POLITICO, Democratic insiders and establishment types say the Sanders campaign will attempt to “game” the early Iowa caucus results if they turn out to be favorable for their candidate.

The news outlet reported online:

Rival campaigns are sounding the alarm that Bernie Sanders could be planning to claim victory on Monday night — before the caucuses are concluded.

It’s a move, they say, that could have a significant effect on the outcome.

>Sanders and his team have made clear their intention to tout the results of the first round of caucus voting Monday, even though the Iowa Democratic Party stresses that the only number that matters is the final delegate count.

Aides with two top-tier campaigns told POLITICO they worry the Sanders campaign or other pro-Sanders forces — which will be receiving unofficial precinct results from allies in real time — will disseminate that information through social media or publicly claim victory after the first vote, an act that could distort the eventual results in a variety of ways.

A claim of victory after the first vote could encourage supporters of weaker candidates to leave the caucuses early without realigning with another candidate. Or it could create an artificial bandwagon effect by encouraging some caucus-goers to jump to Sanders’ side under the belief that he will be the victor.

POLITICO notes further that in either scenario, rival campaigns more reliant than Team Sanders on the realignment round happening after the first preference votes are cast could be hurt.

During the realignment phase, supporters of candidates who fail to reach a threshold of 15 percent support are then free to switch to another candidate.

What’s causing other Democratic campaigns concern is a change to how the Iowa caucuses are reporting results this year. For the first time, the party will be reporting results from the first two rounds of balloting and the allotment of what are called “state delegate equivalents.”

Major media outlets like the AP and others have said they’ll be declaring a winner based on the final delegate count.

And clearly, there are mounting concerns that the Sanders camp will try to influence supporters of other candidates to support the Vermont socialist if he does well in the initial round.

Ironically, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, which is preferred by the DNC and the Democrat establishment, is worried that Sanders will try to bend the rules or undercut the process.

“We have had private, ongoing conversations with multiple campaigns to ensure caucus integrity and voter protections are upheld. It is critical that no campaign undercut this democratic process with self-serving election interference,” a Biden campaign official said in a statement to POLITICO. “And the press should certainly not gratify any dishonest attempt to distort the process before it is finished.”

“I think if any campaign is going to be thinking of ways to game this, or to claim victory or to claim something, then I think it’s in poor spirit and poor form of the Iowa caucuses,” added Brenda Kole, an Iowa campaign veteran volunteering with the party on Monday and unaffiliated with any 2020 Democratic campaign, POLITICO reported.

“From what I know, the Iowa Democratic Party is having discussions with the leaders of these campaigns, with the national media and with other influencers to say: ‘Hey, the numbers are all coming in to the IDP, we are responsible for the accounting and reporting of the final raw number total and the final state delegate equivalencies,” Kole said.

“Everybody is playing by one set of rules except for Bernie,” POLITICO quoted an aide with one of the competing campaigns as saying. “They don’t really care if they disrupt it. They hate the Democratic Party. They hated them from four years ago, and they hate them now.”

Democrat establishment complaints that Sanders will try to ‘game the system’ are extremely ironic given how the party rigged the 2016 campaign on behalf of their preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton.

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