Buttigieg, Sanders maintain lead as Iowa releases almost all caucus results

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg held his slight lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses in updated results released by the Iowa Democratic Party on Wednesday evening.

Updated results reflected 92% of precincts in the state

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., thanks supporters at Drake University in Des Moines on Monday. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg held his slight lead over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses in updated results released by the Iowa Democratic Party on Wednesday evening.

With 92 per cent of precincts reporting, Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who would be the first openly gay U.S. president if elected, had 26.5 per cent of state delegate equivalents, the data traditionally reported to determine the winner.

Sanders had 25.6 per cent, Warren was at 18.3 per cent, and former vice president Joe Biden garnered 15.9 per cent.

Sanders was slightly ahead of Buttigieg in the Iowa popular vote, which is not used to determine the delegates who will formally choose the nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July.

The results followed more than 24 hours of chaos as technical problems marred the complicated caucus process, forcing state officials to apologize and raising questions about Iowa's traditional place atop the presidential primary calendar.

Biden vowed on Wednesday to go on fighting for the Democratic presidential nomination despite what he called the "gut punch" he took in Iowa.

"I am not going to sugarcoat it: We took a gut punch in Iowa. The whole process was a gut punch," Biden said in Somersworth, N.H., where he was campaigning. "This isn't the first time in my life that I've been knocked down."

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden hugs a supporter at a campaign event in Somersworth, N.H., Wednesday. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

The two leaders, Buttigieg and Sanders, are separated by 40 years in age, conflicting ideology and more.

Sanders, a 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist, has been a progressive powerhouse for decades, while the 38-year-old Buttigieg's early standing cemented his transformation from a little-known Indiana mayor to a legitimate force in the 2020 contest.  

Buttigieg has argued it is time for a new generation of leaders and that his lack of experience in Washington makes him an ideal candidate to break the partisan gridlock there.

But he might struggle to win in New Hampshire, where Sanders, who represents neighbouring Vermont, leads in many opinion polls, and in the next Democratic primary in South Carolina on Feb. 29 where Biden expects to receive strong backing from the African-American vote.

Biden, who bills himself as the most electable Democratic candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump on Nov. 3, led many national polls in the run-up to Iowa and has a host of high-profile endorsements.

But his campaign is in trouble.

"There are an awful lot of folks out there who wrote off this campaign ... They've been trying to do that from the moment I entered the race. Well, I've got news for them. I'm not going anywhere," Biden said.

During a private conference call with campaigns earlier in the day, state party chair Troy Price declined to answer pointed questions about the timeline — even whether it would be days or weeks.

"We have been working day and night to make sure these results are accurate," Price said at a subsequent news conference.

Two Biden opponents — Warren and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg — released ads on Wednesday highlighting their ties to Obama in a move to pick up Biden supporters who may be reconsidering after his poor performance in Iowa.

A new app is being blamed for the delay in results from Monday's Democratic caucus in Iowa. (Nati Harnik/The Associated Press)

Company expresses regret

Officials blamed inconsistencies related to a new mobile app used for vote counting for the unusual delay.

The company that produced the app, Shadow, Inc. expressed regret over the delay on Twitter and said the issue did not affect the underlying results. 

Democrats in Nevada, the third state to vote, say they're scrapping plans to use the same mobile reporting app for their caucuses, set for Feb. 22. 

Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News on Tuesday that there was no indication of "any malicious cyberactivity."

He added that Iowa Democrats declined his department's offer to test the reporting app. That's not unusual, as outside security firms do similar testing. The state party had said previously it had worked closely with security experts to test the app.

Des Moines County Democratic chair Tom Courtney said he heard that in precincts across his county, including his own, the mobile app was "a mess."

When precinct leaders called Democratic Party headquarters, "they weren't answering the phones," Courtney said.

With files from Reuters


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