DES MOINES, Iowa — As more precincts' totals were reported late Tuesday night, Democrat Pete Buttigieg maintained his lead in Iowa's first-in-the-nation contest for the presidential nomination, seemingly edging out Sen. Bernie Sanders for the top spot and a majority of Iowa delegates with nearly three-quarters of the state’s precincts reporting.
As of 12 a.m. CT on Wednesday, Feb. 5, the Iowa Democratic Party has released about 71% of the precinct caucus results, more than a full day after Democratic voters in the state went to caucus for their favorite candidates. It remains unclear when full totals will be posted.
The incomplete results showed the former South Bend, Ind., mayor leading the Democratic candidates in the partial result of 26.8% of state delegate equivalents allotted for him in that pool. Sanders won 25.2% percent of delegate equivalents in the pool, Sen. Elizabeth Warren pulled 18.4%, former Vice President Biden won 15.4% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar brought in 12.6%.
At about 4 p.m. CT Tuesday, the state Democratic party released 62% of precincts' numbers — the first results released since Iowans caucused decisions Monday night — which showed Buttigieg in the lead. Buttigieg during an address in New Hampshire on Tuesday gave an emotional speech about the challenges he and his campaign had faced and overcome.
"We don't know all the numbers but we do know this much — a campaign that started a year ago with four staff members, no name recognition, no money, just a big idea, a campaign that some said should have no business even making this attempt has taken its place at the front of this race to replace the current president with a better vision for America," Buttigieg said in televised remarks.
Other campaigns, meanwhile, said it was too soon to call a winner and pointing to success in other data points. Sanders was the top vote-getter in the first and second caucus alignments, the early results showed, with Buttigieg, Warren, Biden and Klobuchar trailing.
"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," Sanders' Senior Advisor Jeff Weaver said in a statement.
Coding issues with a caucus reporting app generated inconsistent results late Monday night, party officials and app developers said. And the varied results flagged during "quality checks" delayed their release.
The result tracked with polling in the lead-up to the Monday caucuses. Almost 24 hours before the first round of results became public, voters crowded school gymnasiums, community centers, churches and libraries to back their preferred candidates, or second-favorite if their first choice failed to pick up support early on.
And the Iowa Democratic Party worked through the night to tabulate paper vote receipts, while party leaders told candidates and the public that inconsistencies in reporting skewed the results. There was no cybersecurity threat to the caucuses, they said, but partial results reporting due to a coding issue with the app caused problems.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price at a news conference Tuesday afternoon said the delay was "unacceptable" and apologized for the slow rollout of results. He said he plans to "see the caucus process through."
"That is what I will continue to work on and whatever happens after that is to be determined," he said before leaving the stage despite reporters' questions.
About three hours after voters began caucusing across the state Monday night, Minnesotan Klobuchar kicked off a series of candidates in delivering a speech touting her campaign successes before leaving the state early Tuesday morning for New Hampshire. Other frontrunners followed, each saying they expected strong results in the state.
"We know there's delays, but we know one thing: We are punching above our weight," Klobuchar said at an after-party downtown. "We feel so good tonight. Somehow, someway, I am getting on a plane to New Hampshire tonight and we are taking this to New Hampshire."
Across town at Drake University, Biden told supporters results could come late in the night or early the next morning. His campaign late Monday sent a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party
“It looks like it’s going to be a long night, but I’m feeling good,” Biden told supporters. "So it's on to New Hampshire."
Nearby on the college's campus, Buttigieg told a crowd at his after-party that his campaign precinct totals showed he won the caucuses
"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," Buttigieg said. "By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious."
The shortcomings in the reporting process fueled national debates about whether Iowa should be tapped as the first in the nation to cast votes in the presidential primary contest moving forward. And Iowa Republicans and national party leaders defended the state.
“The process is not suffering because of a short delay in knowing the final results,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst said in a joint statement. “Iowans and all Americans should know we have complete confidence that every last vote will be counted and every last voice will be heard. We look forward to Iowa carrying on its bipartisan legacy of service in the presidential nominating process.”