Citing 'inconsistencies,' Democratic Party delays Iowa caucus results

Field reports show Sanders, Buttigieg surging, Biden struggling in caucuses

DES MOINES — Official Democratic Party results from Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential precinct caucuses were delayed late Monday as the state party dealt with “inconsistencies in the reporting.”

By about midnight Iowa time, the state Democratic Party had released no official delegate count results even though most precincts were finished and most satellite precincts had been over for hours. There were reports that some precinct leaders were having trouble reporting results on the phone app created for the caucuses.

On a conference call with press at 1 a.m. Tuesday, the party promised that final results would be released sometime later in the day.

CAUCUS RESULTS: Democratic caucus results | Republican caucus results

“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results,” the state party said in a statement late Monday. “In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report.

“This is simply a reporting issue; the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion,” the statement continued. “The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”

The delay came on a night the state party planned to expand the results it reported in the interest of transparency — but opened the party to sharp criticism from Republicans.


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According to unofficial reporting from precincts across the state, early indications pointed to big nights for candidates Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, and a rough night for Joe Biden.

Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar appeared to be holding their own.

The Iowa caucuses were held at roughly 1,700 precincts across the state as Democrats gathered to begin the process of nominating a candidate to face Republican incumbent President Donald Trump, who easily won the state’s Republican caucus.

Based on early reporting from the field, Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont and runner-up in the Iowa caucuses four years ago, were enjoying strong performances across the state.

“I have a feeling that at some point the results are going to be announced and when those results are announced, I have a feeling that we are going to have done very, very well here in Iowa,” Sanders said. “Today marked the beginning of the end for Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in American history.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, appeared to be struggling. In many precincts he was not even viable, failing to reach the prescribed threshold of support — 15 percent, in most precincts.

It would not be the first poor showing for Biden in Iowa; he finished fifth in the 2008 Iowa caucuses-es and withdrew from the 1988 race before the caucuses.

U.S. Sens. Warren, of Massachusetts, and Klobuchar, of Minnesota, also appeared to be in the running for top-four finishes in Iowa.


A top-two finish by Buttigieg could strengthen the long-term prospects for a candidate who largely was unknown a year ago and is not polling as well in other early-voting states, especially those with higher minority populations than Iowa.

Buttigieg has been running on a message of unity, pledging to bring together not only the Democratic Party, but also appeal to independent voters and Republicans who may be frustrated with Trump.

“It feels great out there, and I don’t even know what time it is,” Buttigieg joked to campaign staff and volunteers Monday morning. “You are part of an absolute force that is sweeping through the state of Iowa right now.”

Sanders has changed little as a candidate since 2016, when he finished second to Hillary Clinton in Iowa by a historically small margin. He has pledged to serve as the leader of a grassroots “political revolution,” and has regularly drawn the largest crowds to campaign events in Iowa.

Sanders also is running strong in New Hampshire, which is next to cast votes in the nominating process.

If Biden finishes a weak fourth — or worse — in Iowa, it could be devastating to his campaign moving forward. He said this week he was hoping to be “on the leaderboard” in order to have some early momentum to carry him to other early-voting states, particularly in the South, where he has been polling better.

But Monday, he sought to reassure supporters,

‘Folks we’re going to do this. I promise you we’re going to get this done. On to New Hampshire,” he said.

In a letter Monday night to the state Democratic Party, a lawyer for the Biden campaign asked for the “opportunity to respond” before any results were released to the public.


“I write on behalf of the Biden for President Campaign regarding the considerable flaws in tonight’s Iowa Caucus reporting system,” the lawyer wrote. “The app that was intended to relay Caucus results to the Party failed; the Party’s back-up telephonic reporting system likewise has failed. Now, we understand that Caucus Chairs are attempting to — and, in many cases, failing to — report results telephonically to the Party. These acute failures are occurring statewide.”

According to early reports, Warren has been competitive and it appears Klobuchar’s recent momentum may have continued Monday.

During a telephonic hall event with supporters early Monday morning while she was still in Washington for Trump’s impeachment trial, Warren made her pitch as the Democratic candidate who can defeat Trump in November’s general election. She said her anti-corruption plans at the heart of her candidacy present a platform on which Democrats can run and win.

“Every one of those plans I’ve described is popular not just with Democrats, but with Republicans and independents,” Warren said.

Turnout appeared to be high on a night when many experts and caucus veterans expected record turnout. The previous high was 236,000, set in the 2008 Democratic caucuses that started Barack Obama’s trajectory to the White House.

The party chairman in Iowa’s most populous county said they printed “tens of thousands” of extra voter registration forms, and some Polk County precincts were still running out.

“This caucus is gonna be the big one,” Chairman Sean Bagniewski tweeted Monday night.

Interest and enthusiasm have been high at candidate events throughout the past year, but especially during the final weeks before the caucuses. More than 3,000 attended a Sanders event over the weekend in Cedar Rapids, and Buttigieg, Warren and Biden all have drawn four-figure crowds.

The top of the field entered the day locked in a close race. Sanders held a slim lead in Real Clear Politics’ rolling average of polling on the race in Iowa; with all of the polls reported, Sanders was at an average of 23 percent, Biden at 19.3 percent, Buttigieg at 16.8 percent and Warren at 15.5 percent.


For the first time, the Democratic Party had planned to release not only the final number of state delegate equivalents earned by each candidate, but the number of participants who had lined up for each candidate in the first and final rounds of caucusing.

But when it had released nothing by late Monday, opponents saw an opening.

“JUST IN: The DNC rigged the primary for Hillary Clinton again,” tweeted pr-Trump super PAC America First.

super PAC tweeted.

Rod Boshart of The Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.

LATEST RESULTS: Delegate counts, and first and final alignments

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