Iowa releases 62 percent of caucus results after delay

Clouded by doubts on a chaotic day-after, the Iowa Democratic Party began releasing partial results of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus on Tuesday.

Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders were ahead in the initial results released by the Iowa Democratic Party, with Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar trailing behind in the tally of State Delegate Equivalents.

The data, made public for the first time nearly 24 hours after voting concluded, reflected the results of 62% of precincts in the state.

While campaigns were eager to spin the results to their advantage, there was little immediate indication that the incomplete results eased the confusion and concern that loomed over the opening contest of the Democrats 2020 presidential primary season.

It was unclear when Iowa’s full results would be released.

During a private conference call with campaigns earlier in the day, state party chairman Troy Price declined to answer pointed questions about the specific timeline — even whether it would be a matter of days or weeks.

“We have been working data and night to make sure these results are accurate,” Price said at a subsequent press conference.

Iowa marked the first contest in a primary season that will span all 50 states and several U.S. territories, ending at the party’s national convention in mid-July.

Campaigning in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she was “feeling good” about her performance in Iowa but questioned the state party’s plans to release partial results.

“I just don’t understand what that means, at least half of the data. I think they ought to get it together and release all the data,” she said.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign told supporters that its internal monitoring showed him in the lead with nearly half the vote in. Sanders himself said late Monday, “Today marks the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.”

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, essentially declared an Iowa victory.

“So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation,” he said before leaving Iowa. “By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden said he was “feeling good” and predicted the results would be close.

“I think Iowa is a dumpster fire,” said Dick Harpootlian, a South Carolina state senator and longtime Biden supporter, who served as an Iowa precinct captain for Biden on Monday.

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WHAT WENT WRONG?

The Iowa Democratic Party says an app created to compile and report caucus results malfunctioned due to a “coding issue,” delaying the count. The party says there are no signs of hacking or other intrusion and that the underlying data is “sound.” The problem was that the app only reported partial data when the precinct chairs sent the information to party headquarters.

WERE PROBLEMS ANTICIPATED?

There were some concerns ahead of time. The caucuses were operating under new, complex rules that required the reporting of three different tiers of results and that appears to have complicated the counting.

The Iowa Democratic Party didn’t roll the app out to its 1,678 caucus locations until a few hours before the meetings began Monday night. Party officials had said they would not be sending the new mobile app to precinct chairs for downloading until just before the caucuses to narrow the window for any interference, and there wasn’t widespread pretesting by volunteers running the caucus sites.

HOW WILL THE PARTY DETERMINE WHO WON?

The results of each caucus meeting must be tabulated on paper. Party officials

Iowa Democratic Party chairman says delay in reporting caucus vote was “unacceptable,” even as he says results from 62% of precincts from all of Iowa’s 99 counties will soon be reported.

are going door-to-door across the state to verify the written results of each caucus meeting and check them against what was reported on the app. This will take time.

WHEN WILL WE KNOW WHO WON?

Iowa Democratic Party chair Troy Price said the party will release roughly half of the results from caucus sites by 5 p.m. Tuesday. That fractional result may not provide clarity in a race that saw a number of candidates bunched together in the polls. The plan already drew objections. On a conference call, a representative of former Vice President Joe Biden pushed back against the plan by party officials to release partial results.

WHAT ARE CAMPAIGNS SAYING?

Several campaigns jumped into the information void and announced, perhaps unsurprisingly, that according to their own data their candidate did great in Iowa. But in all of these cases the data is incomplete and may not be representative of what Iowa voters across the state decided — for example, it may under-represent rural areas, or college campuses. Plus, any campaign has an interest in releasing results that make its own candidate look good. These numbers are not reliable.

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT OTHER STATES?

Attention has already shifted to New Hampshire, which votes in a traditional primary on Feb. 11. Another caucus state — Nevada — said it will not use the same app utilized in Iowa.

Once Nevada votes on Feb. 22, things move fast. South Carolina, the final early state, votes on Feb. 29. Then a mass of 14 states that account for about one-third of the delegates up for grabs in the contest votes on March 3, known as Super Tuesday.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR IOWA?

There’s no way to know whether one specific candidate benefits from the Iowa mess. The entire primary process was already uncertain, and a new layer of uncertainty has been added without Iowa winnowing the field in its traditional way. It’s also sowed new doubts about the reliability of caucuses, which increases the pressure on Nevada, one of the only remaining caucus states. Republicans have been gleefully trying to fan Democratic division by stoking rumors online that the meltdown is a conspiracy to cripple Sanders’ insurgent campaign. In the end, though, one thing is clear — the biggest loser is probably Iowa itself, which may lose its first-in-the-nation slot over the debacle.

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