Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders Lead As Iowa Returns Are Finally Released Following Caucus Night Fiasco

Photo by Nati Harnik/AP/Shutterstock (10547950f) Precinct captain Carl Voss of Des Moines displays the Iowa Democratic Party caucus reporting app on his phone outside of the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa

Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders led in the Iowa Caucus results that were finally released on Tuesday, after a technical glitch turned the first-in-the-nation presidential vote into a major fiasco.

Almost 24 hours since Iowans wrapped up their caucuses, the state’s Democratic party finally released 62% of results from the evening.

Buttigieg had 26.9% of state delegates, Sanders had 25.1%, and Elizabeth Warren had 18.3%. Joe Biden trailed with 15.6%, followed by Amy Klobuchar with 12.6%. Sanders still led Buttigieg in the popular vote.

As the results came in, news networks quickly went into analysis of the data, county by county, as they would have had they had the figures on Monday night. NBC News’ Chuck Todd pointed to Biden’s 4th place showing so far, adding that after making a huge investment in the state, the former vice president was “running on fumes.”

Once the Iowa Democratic Party said that it would release numbers later in the afternoon on Tuesday, CNN set a countdown clock to the 5 p.m. press conference where the results were unveiled.

The delay in the results — what the state party chair, Troy Price, blamed on a coding error in a new caucus reporting app — was enough of a snafu to put a spotlight on the state’s place as the first-in-the-nation vote.

Critics have long derided the outsized influence of the Hawkeye State, unrepresentative of the country as a whole with a confusing caucus process that generally produces low turnout among registered voters. Throughout Tuesday veterans of political campaigns were already predicting the caucuses demise, pointing to glitches that have raised doubts about past votes.

Julian Castro, the former 2020 candidate who is now a surrogate for Warren, told reporters that the caucus was “a total mess” and a “complete failure.”

If Iowa were to lose its status, it also would lose out at an event that pays off in media exposure and visitor spending. The visitors bureau in Des Moines estimated more than $11 million of economic impact from the stream of thousands of journalists, political consultants and campaign volunteers who stream into the city the week before the vote. The city’s boosters also calculated that the media exposure was worth about $228 million in advertising revenue.

Those figure, though, tell only part of the story. Every four years, candidates campaign for a year or more throughout Iowa’s 99 counties, with the media following them through quaint small towns and mid-sized cities. Iowa’s TV stations also see a spike in advertising revenue.

This presidential cycle, more than $44 million was spent on on 122,815 broadcast TV spots in the state, according to an analysis from the Wesleyan Advertising Project. That was an 11% increase in spending over 2016.

Candidates quickly moved on from Iowa and arrived in New Hampshire early on Tuesday. Its Feb. 11 vote is much simpler: a primary.

Price, the Iowa state party chair, did not say when further figures would be released. Speaking to reporters, he said, “As chair of the party, I apologize deeply for this.” He insisted the data was accurate and can be backed up by a paper trail.

Price did not say when the remaining figures would be released.


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