The Slatest

Buttigieg, Sanders Ahead After Partial Results Released in Iowa Caucuses

Pete Buttigieg speaks into a microphone.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks to his supporters on Tuesday.
Joseph Preioso/Getty Images

Partial results from the 2020 Iowa caucuses released Tuesday afternoon show former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders ahead in the delegate count with 62 percent of precincts reporting.

Monday’s caucuses were, by all accounts, a debacle. The process began at 7 p.m., but by the end of the night, there were still no answers. The blame was placed on the Iowa Democratic Party and a new app used to report the results of the nearly 1,700 precincts. That app, state officials said, had a “coding issue” that led to “inconsistencies.” Officials had to turn to their manual backups and promised results sometime Tuesday.

Now, almost a full day after the caucuses started, we still don’t have a full answer. The state’s Democratic Party has not said when it will report the rest of the numbers. But from the slight majority that were released, it appears that Buttigieg and Sanders are solidly ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden, who is in fourth place, behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

In the precincts reporting, Buttigieg has won nearly 27 percent of the delegates. Sanders follows with 25 percent, and Warren has collected 18 percent. Biden, with 16 percent, is three points ahead of Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

It’s worth reiterating that the 62 percent of the precincts that have been reported are not necessarily representative of the whole state. Sanders, who leads the popular vote, could surpass Buttigieg in delegate count.

Buttigieg told his supporters on Monday night that Iowa had “shocked the nation” and “by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.” Those comments were widely mocked as premature. He later said that he had not intended to say he was the night’s literal winner but that he had felt he had come out of the night with a feeling of momentum.

Iowa’s delegation isn’t huge, but it’s role as the first state to vote is—something the candidates, who spent a collective $40 million in Iowa, know too well. A victory in the state can play a large role in shaping the narrative of the race. But the confusion of the night may mean that Buttigieg (or whoever ultimately wins) will find less momentum as he heads on to the next stages of the race.

Even before the results had come in, the candidates had already moved on to New Hampshire, which will hold its primary next Tuesday. With the conclusion of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial expected Wednesday, those candidates who had been splitting time between their congressional duties in Washington and their campaign efforts in Iowa will now be able to focus fully on the next stop on the trail.