Full results show Pete Buttigieg winning Iowa Democratic caucuses by thinnest of margins

Inside three days of caucus chaos: prank calls and snail mail

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg takes a question Thursday from the audie
Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg takes a question Thursday from the audience at a campaign stop at the Merrimack American Legion in Merrimack, N.H. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

DES MOINES — It was another rough day for the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses, but it ended with a bang — complete results, finally.

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds an edge over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders by an historically narrow margin.

If Buttigieg’s lead as announced by the state party late Thursday holds, it will be closer even than Hillary Clinton’s victory over Sanders just four years ago.

According to the official results, Buttigieg earned 564.012 state delegate equivalents — the measure by which the state party orders caucus results — and Sanders earned 562.497.

As a share of the total delegates awarded, Buttigieg earned 26.2 percent and Sanders 26.13.

The Associated Press cautioned that even with complete results, the news organization would not declare a winner.

“There is evidence the party has not accurately tabulated some of its results, including those released late Thursday that the party reported as complete,” the AP said.

The state party published the complete results about 8 p.m. Thursday — three days after Monday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses drew thousands across Iowa.


According to the party’s results, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren earned 18 percent of the state delegate equivalents, former Vice President Joe Biden earned 15.9 percent and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar earned 12.3 percent.

The chaos that ensued in releasing the results for 72 hours was marked with both technical and human errors, as well as unanticipated obstacles.

Iowa Democrats already were concerned about the fate of the first-in-the-nation caucuses. Thursday brought little salve to wounds that appeared largely self-inflicted by the state Democratic Party itself.

An analysis by the New York Times discovered errors made in recording the results in more than 100 precincts.

State party officials confirmed supporters of President Donald Trump prank-called the party headquarters Monday night, contributing to the overwhelmed phone lines that local caucus volunteers were trying to use to call in results.

Some precinct leaders, unable to connect with the state party over the phone, gave up and dropped their precinct’s results in the mail.

And the head of the national Democratic Party called for a re-canvass, even though by caucus rules he does not have the authority.

“While I fully acknowledge that the reporting circumstances on Monday night were unacceptable, we owe it to the thousands of Iowa Democratic volunteers and caucusgoers to remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results,” state party Chairman Troy Price said in a statement before the complete count was released. “Throughout the collection of records of results, the IDP identified inconsistencies in the data and used our redundant paper records to promptly correct those errors. This is an ongoing process in close coordination with precinct chairs ...”


The New York Times performed a review of caucus results that had been dripping out, and found results from more than 100 precincts were “internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses,” it reported Thursday.

Inconsistencies included vote tallies that did not add up, precincts showing the wrong number of delegates for certain candidates, and mismatches between what the precincts and state party reported.

The Times said it had notified the state party of errors it found, but some remained unchanged.

National Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez made a public request for the state party to conduct a re-canvass of the caucus results.

“Enough is enough,” he tweeted. “In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a re-canvass.”

But caucuses are a state party function, so Perez has no authority.

In his statement, Price said the state party would conduct a re-canvass if a presidential campaign requests one.

“Should any presidential campaign in compliance with the Iowa Delegate Selection Plan request a re-canvass, the IDP is prepared. In such a circumstance, the IDP will audit the paper records of report, as provided by the precinct chairs and signed by representatives of presidential campaigns,” Price said. “This is the official record of the Iowa Democratic caucus, and we are committed to ensuring the results accurately reflect the preference of Iowans.”

State party officials also confirmed reports that help explain why their phone lines were jammed Monday night: The number to call the state party hotline was posted online, and state officials were flooded with calls from people asking for results and from Trump supporters.

Bloomberg News, which first reported the news, said state central committee member Ken Sagar told Iowa Democrats on a conference call that he was among those answering the hotline on caucus night and some people called in and expressed support for Trump. (Bloomberg News is owned by Michael Bloomberg, a Democratic candidate for president who chose not to campaign in Iowa.)


“On Caucus Day, the Iowa Democratic Party experienced an unusually high volume of inbound phone calls to its Caucus hotline, including supporters of President Trump. The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party’s collection of results, but in no way affected the integrity of information gathered or the accuracy of data sets reported,” state party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said in a statement.

The party said it had 45 phones taking calls on the night of the caucuses and it blocked the numbers of repeat callers.

LATEST RESULTS: Delegate counts, and first and final alignments

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