The New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses have passed, and South Carolina’s vote is just days away.
But 24 days after thousands of Iowans who had braved months of campaign stops and commercials turned out to winnow presidential candidates, there’s still no winner of the first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Final results of the first contest to decide the Democratic Party’s nominee to challenge President Donald Trump were released late Thursday, after the Iowa Democratic Party completed a recount of results at the request of two candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The two, according to the party, remain essentially tied for the lead.
In the new results, Buttigieg has 562.954 state delegate equivalents and Sanders has 562.021. That is a margin of 0.04 percentage points.
As it stands, Buttigieg has 13 delegates and Sanders has 12. Sen. Elizabeth Warren won eight, former Vice President Joe Biden won six and Sen. Amy Klobuchar won one. A final delegate will be awarded to Buttigieg as the candidate with the most state delegate equivalents when the party certifies the results Saturday.
The reporting of Democratic caucus results in Iowa this year was marred by multiple problems: tech issues with the mobile phone app used to collect data from caucus sites, an overwhelming number of calls to the party’s backup phone system and a subsequent delay of several days in reporting the results.
An AP review of initial results provided by the Iowa Democratic Party found numerous precinct results that contained errors or were inconsistent with party rules.
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Iowa party officials said there are reasons for the discrepancies that would not have changed the number of state delegate equivalents awarded to each candidate. But they didn’t confirm the cause of discrepancies in individual precincts.
There were also a handful of precincts in which officials awarded more state delegate equivalents to candidates than there were available to be won.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price resigned after the caucus fiasco, saying that Democrats deserved better and that he bore responsibility for any failures. Iowa Democrats selected Iowa state Rep. Mark Smith as the interim chairman.
Under party rules, the Sanders and Buttigieg campaigns could first request a recanvass, which they did. A recanvass is not a recount, but a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added correctly. Once that process was complete, they requested the recount the state party completed Thursday.
However, the two campaigns did not request a statewide recanvass and recount. Instead, they asked the party to look at a select number of precincts in which they felt an error would benefit their candidate.
That means other locations where errors appeared to have occurred remain unexamined.
Following the initial delay in reporting results, and after observing irregularities in those results, the Associated Press has decided it will not declare a winner in these 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses.
For the AP to decide not to declare a result is unusual. The most notable example was in 2000, when the results of the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore were too close to call at the end of election night.
The AP decided not to call the race for either. The ensuing recount dispute eventually reached the Supreme Court, which effectively cleared the way for Bush to become president.
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