Some 21 hours after Iowans gathered to hold their caucus that kickstarts the Democratic Presidential race, the Iowa Democratic Party released partial results Tuesday evening showing former Southbend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg with a slim lead over Senator Bernie Sanders in delegates.
The totals, which showed Buttigieg leading with about 27 percent of delegates to Sanders’ 25, were based on results from 62 percent of precincts and are not sufficient to declare the mayor the winner.
It’s unclear when the party intends to release the full results.
The partial results came after the Democratic Party was unable to provide results from the Iowa state caucuses Monday night despite spending millions of dollars, owing to what it called a technical glitch and President Donald Trump called incompetence.
Iowa is a closely-watched test in the months-long process to determine who will face Trump in November.
Republicans led by Trump gloated over the setback, and candidates who normally rely on the Midwestern state’s caucuses for momentum as the primary season unfolds were denied that bounce.
Liberal commentators also slammed the Democratic Party for its handling of the caucuses, calling it a historic disaster and an embarrassment for the party.
Though Buttigieg held a lead over Sanders in delegates according to the partial results, Sanders led the field in total votes both after the first round the “realignment” stage that is unique to caucuses.
If a candidate does not receive 15 percent of the vote after the first round in, caucus-goers are asked to join the camp of their second choice for the final round.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) February 4, 2020
Internal figures released from the Sanders campaign on Tuesday showed the Senator in a “comfortable” first place in delegates based on tallies from about 60 percent of precincts, about five points ahead of Buttigieg.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, the Iowa Democratic Party blamed a “coding issue” in an app that was designed to report vote totals, resulting in “inconsistencies” and forcing officials to enter data manually.
The app in question was created just two months before the caucus by a firm called Shadow Inc., which employs several Democratic establishment figures including veterans of the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns.
The statement said that the party is confident that the issues with the app were technical and not the result of hacking.
“While our plan is to release results as soon as possible today, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the integrity and accuracy of the process continues to be upheld,” the party said.
Disappointing Showing for Biden
The partial results showed Senator Elizabeth Warren in third place followed by former vice president Joe Biden in a distant fourth.
If those figures hold when the final results are released, it could be a major blow for Biden, who has been the national frontrunner throughout the majority of the campaign.
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) February 4, 2020
Amid the confusion, Biden’s campaign counsel Dana Remus wrote to Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price blasting the “considerable flaws” encountered during the caucus and urged the party to further delay the release of the results.
Despite the poor showing, Biden sought to downplay the longterm impact of the results, saying he is focused on upcoming states.
“I’m feeling good,” Biden said Tuesday “So it’s on to New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, well beyond. We’re in this for the long haul.”
Day of Confusion
In a speech late Monday night, Buttigieg seemed to declare victory before walking back his comments Tuesday morning.
“By all indications, we will be going on to New Hampshire victorious,” the mayor said in his speech.
But the next morning, Buttigieg clarified that he believes the final results will be a victory for his campaign, not necessarily a first-place finish.
Sanders, running as a democratic socialist, also took to the microphones to proclaim he had “a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa.”
“Tonight in this enormously consequential 2020 election, the first state in the country has voted, and today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” said the 78-year-old.
A Bernie supporter from Des Moines, 35-year-old Lauren Campbell, expressed nervousness at the results’ delay. “As a Bernie supporter in 2016, it’s very easy for me to not trust the system right now.
New Hampshire votes second, on February 11, and tradition dictates that the top performers in Iowa board jets and race to The Granite State to capitalize on the momentum.
A new poll released Tuesday morning found Sanders with an enormous 19 point lead over second-place Warren.
“The top finishers, probably Sanders and Buttigieg, could have used their showings to launch into New Hampshire for next Tuesday’s primary. Instead, the story is the shocking incompetence of the Iowa Democratic Party,” University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato told AFP.
Critics are latching onto the #IowaCaucusDisaster to argue that the state shouldn’t keep its status as the first state the US to select a presidential nominee, particularly if it’s going to keep using its complicated caucus system. https://t.co/qRxM1T29YB
— Vox (@voxdotcom) February 4, 2020
“And who will believe the numbers they eventually release? You can’t trust the campaigns either; they have every incentive to exaggerate,” he added.
Unlike secret ballot voting, Iowa caucus-goers publicly declare their choice by standing together with other supporters of a candidate. Candidates who reach 15 percent support earn delegates for the nomination race while supporters of candidates who fall short can shift to others.
It appeared the delays may have been exacerbated by new rules instituted after the 2016 election that require caucuses to report three sets of numerical data throughout the process, rather than one set previously.
Held across nearly 1,700 sites, the Iowa vote offers a critical early look at the viability of the 11 Democrats still in the race – even though just 41 delegates are up for grabs, a fraction of the 1,991 needed to secure the nomination in July.
Trump called the Democrats incompetent.
“The Democrat caucus is an unmitigated disaster. Nothing works, just like they ran the country,” he wrote on Twitter.
Alluding to his own victory following Republican caucuses in the Midwestern farm state, Trump said “the only person that can claim a very big victory in Iowa last night is ‘Trump.'”
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