Former mayor Pete Buttigieg held a narrow lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders after the release Tuesday of a fresh wave of results from the Iowa Democratic caucuses.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was in third place followed by former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Results were in for 71% of all precincts across Iowa’s 99 counties.
After a massive meltdown in producing the results for Monday’s Iowa caucuses, state Democratic party officials were still unable to declare a winner. An initial set of results accounting for 62% of the state’s precincts was released Tuesday afternoon followed a few hours later by additional results.
The partial results showed Buttigieg with 26.8% of state delegate equivalents. Sanders had 25.2% followed by Warren with 18.4%, Biden with 15.4% and Klobuchar with 12.6%.
Campaigns, party volunteers and regular Iowans expressed confusion and frustration at the lack of clarity on what is often one of the most closely-watched nights in American presidential politics.
“I apologize deeply for this,” said Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price.
At issue: an app that caucus precinct chairs said failed to work properly, a back-up phone system for relaying results that was bogged down with callers and a new reporting structure that left Democrats working to verify three times the results as previous years.
It wasn’t the first time the Iowa caucuses have produced late results, but issues come after months of heightened criticism of the caucus process and calls for Iowa to lose its vaunted first-in-the-nation status.
“I’ve said this entire time that we’re going to have to evaluate after this primary is done … the debate thresholds, the order of the states, the caucus versus primary,” said former housing secretary Julián Castro, a surrogate for Warren’s campaign. “What happened (Monday night) made the argument for itself. Nobody can deny this is a broken way to do it. It was a total mess.”
The Iowa Democratic Party said the “underlying data collected” on the app used to report caucus results “was sound” but the system was only reporting out partial data. Democrats were manually recounting the results.
After the problems emerged in Iowa, frustrated candidates and their campaigns headed to New Hampshire, which holds its primary on Tuesday.
While speaking at an event in Laconia, New Hampshire, Buttigieg choked up after speaking about the preliminary results.
“It validates the idea that we can expand a coalition not only unified around who it is we’re against but around what it is that we’re for,” he said.
Sanders’ senior advisor Jeff Weaver praised the Vermont senator’s standing with the raw vote totals, not state delegate equivalents.
“We want to thank the people of Iowa. We are gratified that in the partial data released so far it’s clear that in the first and second round more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field,” Weaver said in a statement.
Contributing: Rebecca Morin of USA TODAY and Barbara Rodriguez of the Des Moines Register