In an early Iowa Democratic caucus vote count, Senator Bernie Sander held a slight popular-vote lead, while former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg led in a measure of state delegates. With 62 percent of precincts counted, Sanders earned 26 percent of the popular vote; Buttigieg hit 25. By both measures, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was in third place with 20 percent of the vote, and former Vice President Joe Biden placed fourth at 13 percent. The results were released nearly a day after the caucuses were held, thanks to widespread reporting issues. The Iowa Democratic Party blamed inconsistencies in reporting for the delay. A New York Times analysis of the data, however, said that the results were “riddled with inconsistencies. Technical glitches in an app used to report caucus data delayed results typically released the night of the Iowa presidential caucuses, which took place on February 3. Candidates started to move on to New Hampshire on February 4 ahead of its February 11 primary, but not before they put a positive spin on the Hawkeye State outcome in the absence of official numbers.
Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said this week that the party would “continue to release the results as we can.” The first set of data from more than half of the precincts came at about 5 p.m. on February 4, followed by more results just before midnight. New chunks of numbers came throughout the day on February 5. Adding to confusion and frustration, Iowa Democrats had to update one batch of data after acknowledging they needed to make a “minor correction.” The figures the party initially released showed Buttigieg jumping barely ahead of Sanders in one of its three data sets, reallocated preference. But Sanders once again had an edge in that category when the numbers were reissued. Just before the party released its first batch of data, its chairman, Troy Price, apologized for the botched reporting process. He called it “unacceptable.” Price said Iowa Democrats would undertake a “thorough, transparent and independent examination of what occurred.” Price said the party faced “multiple reporting challenges” including a “coding error” in the app used at caucus sites. He noted that Iowa Democrats have taken their time out of an “abundance of caution” to make sure the data is accurate. Price said the party has a paper trail to verify electronically reported data.
Multiple Democratic campaigns criticized the delay in releasing results. The chaos fueled more calls from observers to do away with caucuses or Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status. In the absence of results, campaigns announced internal tallies, which can skew toward their candidates. The data suggested some combination of Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren were competing at the top of the caucus field. Buttigieg declared victory early on February 5, the only candidate to do so before the state party released any data. Speaking in New Hampshire after Iowa Democrats released results, he said a campaign that “some said should have no business even making this attempt has taken its place at the front of this race.” Speaking before results were released, Sanders said “we’re not declaring victory.” After the Iowa results started to come out, he said to reporters in New Hampshire, “I’m very proud to tell you that last night in Iowa we received more votes on the first and second round than any other candidate.” “For some reason in Iowa, they’re having a little bit of trouble counting votes,” he continued. “But I am confident that here in New Hampshire I know you’ll be able to count those votes on election night.”