It is done. Maybe.
The Iowa Democratic Party released all 100% of precinct results this evening. The final count showed Pete Buttigieg with an extremely narrow lead over Bernie Sanders in the state delegate equivalent count, but questions remain about how accurate many precinct results are.
Buttigieg has earned 564.012 SDEs to Sanders’ 562.497, according to the IDP. That gives Buttigieg a lead of 0.1%, or 26.2% of SDEs to Sanders’ 26.1%.
On the raw vote count, which Sanders’ campaign is pointing to as proof they won the state, Sanders leads Buttigieg in the first alignment by 6,114 and by 2,631 on the second alignment. The SDE number is what news outlets have traditionally used to declare a winner, and were preparing to use this time. Both candidates may end up with the same number of national delegates out of Iowa.
But multiple news outlets are refusing to officially call the race, due to many precinct-level inconsistencies in what is being reported officially by the IDP and what the calculations show or what precinct volunteers shared on social media. In any election, a caucus or a primary/general election, there are minor discrepancies across different precincts that are caused by human error that get cleaned up over time.
Sanders’ campaign quickly declared victory themselves, calling the SDE count “antiquated and meaningless metric” and says the count “will never be known with any kind of certainty.” They also released a list of 14 precincts they believed have inconsistencies in what was being reported by the IDP that would benefit Sanders.
Because of new transparency measures in this Iowa Caucus, those discrepancies are more noticeable to the general public. And the new paper trail implemented should ensure that everything gets correctly reported.
Unfortunately for all involved, the incredible closeness of the race between Buttigieg and Sanders magnifies every minor flaw that may have been otherwise ignored in a bigger win for a candidate.
If this result holds up under scrutiny, it means Iowa will have backed for the first time an openly gay candidate for a major party nomination. It’s also a remarkable journey for a little-known mayor that broke out of the largest-ever Democratic field to potentially win the first state in the nominating process.
Both Sanders and Buttigieg indicated tonight that they weren’t interested in a re-canvassing of the results, something only the campaigns can call for (DNC Chair Tom Perez called for one today, then seemed to back off in an interview this evening). The two campaigns may simply be happy that they came out as the top two in the caucus, with Joe Biden leaving the state significantly damaged by his fourth place finish. Elizabeth Warren placed a respectable third place, ahead of Biden, and Amy Klobuchar came close to Biden’s delegate totals.
The Sanders and Buttigieg campaigns are now in a stronger position as the calendar rolls through the other early states on its way to Super Tuesday.
by Pat Rynard