Partial results have been released by the Iowa Democratic Party after last night’s presidential caucuses turned into an unmitigated disaster. Candidates were left hanging after officials were unable to count the votes. In the absence of any public results, out candidate Pete Buttigieg boldly claimed victory, and the incomplete results show he may have pulled it off.
With 62 percent of precincts reporting, Buttigieg led in the delegate count with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a close second. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Vice President Joe Biden followed. The results could still change.
“So, we don’t know all the results,” Buttigieg said late last night at a rally in Des Moines. “But, we know, by the time it is all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation. Because, by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”
Caucuses are an arcane and archaic system of voting for a primary candidate that involves people meeting in churches, schools, and other community buildings and trying to convince other voters to support their candidate for 30 minutes. At that point, the supporters for each candidate are counted, those with less than 15% support get dropped, and another 30-minute convincing period starts to allow voters to realign.
The results show that Sanders had the most supporters in the first round of voting, but Buttigieg ended up slightly ahead in the delegate count after the final tally, with each candidate getting about a quarter of the vote. Warren came in third, with about 21 percent of the vote. Sen. Amy Klobuchar came in fifth but with a stronger-than expected showing of 12 percent.
The surprise was the weak showing of former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden came in fourth place, with just 13 percent of the vote. While Biden’s strongest states are still ahead of him, another poor showing could causing real damage to his long-term hopes.
The big caveat here is that the results are only partial, and it’s unclear when the rest of the results will be release. Numbers could shift significantly, so claiming victory or assigning loss right now should come with an asterisk.
Buttigieg will be the first LGBTQ person in history to win delegates in a presidential primary and his strong performance provides critical momentum as he heads to the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.
Fred Karger, the first out Republican presidential candidate, is elated with Buttigieg’s placing in the caucus.
“With the final results from last night’s wild and woolly Iowa Caucuses still pending, it sure looks like my candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg will finish in first place or a very close second place,” Karger said in an emailed statement. “Pete’s momentum coming off this huge win in Iowa is reminiscent of Barack Obama’s victory there 12 years ago.”
“Pete’s strong showing in Iowa represents a revolution in American politics, upending traditional notions of electability and proving America is ready to elect its first openly gay president,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund said. “With defeating Donald Trump top of mind, Iowa voters determined Pete is the best candidate to do it, a powerful statement about our progress as a country as this primary season begins.”
“The messy Iowa reporting process should not distract anyone from the historic moment that played out last night. Pete – running against 10 opponents including some of the best-known names in American politics – overcame the obstacles and the odds to land in one of the top spots, if not the top spot, in the Iowa caucuses. It is an incredible achievement for an openly gay candidate and speaks to his ability to build a broad coalition among voters in cities, suburbs and rural areas. It forever changes how the media, pundits and voters view the electability of openly LGBTQ candidates.”
Update: Pete Buttigieg gave a speech calling the results in Iowa a “victory” and got choked up a bit.
Mayor @PeteButtigieg chokes up in (possible) Iowa victory speech: “It validates for a kid somewhere in a community wondering if he belongs or she belongs or THEY belong in their own family, that if you believe in yourself and your country, there is a lot backing up the belief.” pic.twitter.com/hFIL6IdgLc
— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) February 4, 2020