The Iowa Democratic Party announced the release of 100 percent of the state caucus results Thursday night, showing Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders neck and neck in their lead over the rest of the Democratic candidates. The results could change as more data is examined, and NBC has not called a winner in the race.
The Iowa Democrats' announcement comes after Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez called on state party officials to recanvass the results of Monday's caucuses amid growing concerns about their accuracy (see NBC News' review of the results).
Caucusgoers gathered at nearly 1,700 sites across Iowa on Monday night to tally support for their preferred candidates only for the count to be thrown into disarray when what Iowa Democrats called "inconsistencies" delayed the reporting of results.
The state has 41 pledged delegates up for grabs, and the high-stakes contest traditionally plays a major role in determining who is a legitimate contender in the race. Candidates in the crowded Democratic field needed to meet a threshold of support (at least 15 percent of attendees at most caucus sites) to become viable, or they saw supporters move on to someone else.
Highlights from the Iowa caucuses
- An NBC News review of the Iowa caucus vote finds the results are rife with potential errors, inconsistencies.
- DNC Chair Perez calls for recanvassing results amid growing concerns about their accuracy.
- Buttigieg, Sanders are neck and neck with nearly all the votes reported.
- Iowa caucus app was rushed and flawed from the beginning, experts say.
- Here's why more than one candidate can declare victory.
- Caucus chaos sparks fresh calls for an end to Iowa's leadoff status.
- Where to find Iowa race results.
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Why more than one candidate could declare victory in Iowa
After significant delays, the Iowa Democratic Party on Tuesday began releasing the results of the caucuses the day before — a move that could cause more confusion thanks to the state party's decision to report three sets of results all at once.
The first set of results show, based the partial returns, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., vying for first place, with 27 percent and 25 percent respectively.
The percentages, based on partial returns of the number of state convention delegates won by each candidate through the caucus process, are known as state delegate equivalents, or SDEs. Traditionally, this result has been the only one reported by the state party, and it's how NBC News will eventually declare a winner in Iowa.
But this year, the Iowa Democratic Party chose to release two other sets of results, what NBC News' elections unit is calling initial preference and reallocated preference — part of a rules change to increase transparency into the process.
In those two sets of results, Sanders appears to lead.
Biden to N.H. supporters: 'I'd like you to rocket me out of here'
Speaking in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, former Vice President Joe Biden said he needs supporters in the state to launch him ahead has he goes into Nevada and South Carolina.
"And I'm counting on you to make sure you send me off in a way that — there's nothing to come back from yet, but I'd like you to rocket me out of here to make sure this thing works, okay?" Biden said.
"Because if I come out of here well, you guys are gonna set the tone for the whole, whole rest of the race. And it's time for New Hampshire to speak, and I'm looking forward to make my case all across the state until Tuesday."
Biden began his remarks with a comment on the counting problems in Iowa, saying, "You know, 24 hours later they're still trying to figure out what the heck happened in Iowa. At this rate, New Hampshire might get the first vote after all."
ANALYSIS: The Iowa caucuses' muddled vote count was a debacle, but not for Joe Biden
Last spring, the dean of Iowa political journalists, David Yepsen, presciently warned the Cook Political Report that the Iowa Democratic Party's new caucus bells and whistles — four different measurements of results, satellite caucus sites and a new reporting system — could make for a nightmare in reporting results.
On Monday, after his prediction came true and the party was unable provide any results on Election Night, Yepsen was even more morose: "RIP caucuses. And after the GOP fiasco of 2012, Iowa probably shouldn't even try."
But the real danger for Democrats goes beyond one state party's reputation. It's that the chaotic count and the muddled result could presage a messy, protracted primary slog that could go all the way to the Milwaukee convention in July and imperil party unity heading into the fall.
With results from 71 percent of precincts reported by the state party as of 1:15 a.m. ET Wednesday, it's possible — even likely — that Pete Buttigieg will have won a narrow plurality of state delegate equivalents and that Bernie Sanders will have won a plurality of caucusgoers' first preferences. At first glance, the biggest loser would seem to be Joe Biden, currently in fourth place. But the media spotlight on the tallying debacle and the muddled finish at the top — rather than Biden's finish itself — may be welcome news for the former vice president.
Perez: Iowa results app 'will not be used in Nevada or anywhere else'
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said Tuesday that the app used to tally results in Iowa's caucuses "will not be used in Nevada or anywhere else" during the primary.
"What happened last night should never happen again," Perez said in a statement. "We have staff working around the clock to assist the Iowa Democratic Party to ensure that all votes are counted. It is clear that the app in question did not function adequately. It will not be used in Nevada or anywhere else during the primary election process. The technology vendor must provide absolute transparent accounting of what went wrong."
“Our immediate goal is to ensure that every vote is counted as quickly as possible," Perez added. "Accuracy is our guidepost."
Buttigieg: Iowa showing 'one more proof point for the possibility of American belonging'
Buttigieg said Tuesday that Iowans on Monday night "talked about where they wanted this country to go and in astonishingly encouraging numbers supported the vision of this campaign."
Speaking about the delayed early results, the former mayor added that he wished "they had come in sooner since this is the best piece of news I think our campaign's gotten since I entered this race. But I also hope that we recognize that this is a set of numbers and a set of choices made by individual Iowans that has verified, that has a paper trail behind it, and that shows just what is possible for a campaign that started with nothing and built up over the course of the year with a message, a team, and a vision for where we need to go that clearly drew a lot of people in."
Asked what advice he would give to children "looking for that same sense of belonging who were in your shoes when you were their age," Buttigieg said, "That it gets better and to believe in what's possible in this country. To believe in yourself.
"Not that it'll be easy," he said. "Our country has so many patterns of exclusion that takes so many different forms, but that's exactly what this campaign is about — that we can trade that exclusion for a sense of belonging, and I want everybody to feel one more proof point for the possibility of American belonging after seeing yesterday's results."