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Iowa caucus live updates: Buttigieg, Sanders reach virtual tie with 100 percent of results released

The first-in-the-nation voting state was thrown into disarray late Monday after the Iowa Democratic Party delayed releasing results.

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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

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Live Blog

After Iowa 'gut punch,' Biden sharpens criticism of Sanders and Buttigieg

After taking what he called a “gut punch” in the Iowa caucuses, former Vice President Joe Biden is taking a new approach in the final days leading up to the New Hampshire primary, calling out his opponents directly to argue that they are unqualified to be the Democratic nominee.

Biden unloaded on Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at a rally here Wednesday in an effort to forcefully provide a reality check for voters by contrasting his electability and experience argument to the two Iowa caucus frontrunners.

Even though Biden has downplayed an apparent fourth place finish in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, his agitation for his loss has been on display since arriving in New Hampshire Tuesday, where he first began to directly call out Sanders by name.

But on Wednesday he went further than just criticizing Sanders’ Medicare-for-All position, pointing at the fact that vulnerable Democratic down-ballot candidates in red and blue states alike would have to defend Sanders’ far-reaching ideas, many of which Democrats have expressed skepticism about supporting.

Read the story.

Why the results are taking so long to tally

An Iowa Democratic aide says staff is literally examining the photo or paper records that have been collected and matching it against the inputted responses, which “obviously takes time.”   

This has to be done for all three sets of data: initial preference, reallocated preference and the state delegate equivalents.

The state Democratic Party is expected to release more results Wednesday afternoon.

Latest numbers from Iowa show no change in candidates' positions

The Iowa Democratic Party released an update on the results of caucuses Wednesday afternoon, but the additional numbers show no change in the candidates' positions.

With 75 percent of the results now reported, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg retains a narrow lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., remains in third place, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Those positions have remained the same since the state Democratic Party released initial results and an update on Tuesday. 

Biden goes after Sanders, Buttigieg

Joe Biden threw down against Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg post-Iowa, pointing out to supporters in New Hampshire that one candidate is a self-described "democratic socialist" and the other was the mayor of a small Midwestern city.

If Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, were to become the Democratic nominee, Biden said that "every Democrat in America up and down the ballot, in blue states, red states, purple states ... in easy districts, in competitive ones, every Democrat will have to carry the label Sen. Sanders has chosen for himself."

"He calls him — and I don't criticize him — he calls himself a democratic socialist," Biden continued. "Well, we are already seeing what Donald Trump is going to do with that. So when Sanders attacks me for having baggage, I have to tell you the 60-plus candidates that I campaigned for in the toughest districts in the country just two years ago don't see me as baggage. They wanted me in their districts."

"I doubt whether if many people ask Bernie Sanders to come in and campaign," Biden added. "He's a good man. But he labeled himself."

Biden then went after Buttigieg, noting that the former mayor of South Bend, Inidana, calls Biden "part of the old, failed Washington."

"Well, really? Was it a failure when I went to Congress to get Obamacare passed into law?" Biden asked. "Was it a failure when I got passed the implementation of the Recovery Act to prevent an economic collapse, another Great Depression? Was it a failure when I worked to get the Iran nuclear deal done? Was it a failure with the Paris climate accord, the Violence Against Women Act, the chemical weapons treaty, the Brady Bill, the ban on assault weapons? Was it a failure?

"Is he really saying that the Obama-Biden administration was a failure?" Biden continued. "Pete, just say it out loud. I have great respect for Mayor Pete and his service to this nation, but I do believe it's a risk, to be just straight up with you, for this party to nominate someone who has never held an office higher than mayor of a town of a 100,000 people in Indiana. I do believe it's a risk." 

Iowa Dems releasing more results Wednesday afternoon

More results out of Iowa will be released in the early afternoon, per a Democratic Party official.

"As always, the IDP's focus is on the integrity of the results, including verifying the results with the paper trail. In some cases, that means literally examining a photo or physical document to match it against the inputted responses.   

Caucus IDP organizing staff fanned out across the state to connect with precinct leadership and collect any outstanding documentation. IDP designed this system to more efficiently collect the paper records this cycle. The overwhelming majority of these documents have now been collected. Per IDP rules, these documents are stored offsite through a secure chain of custody."

Biden addresses Iowa loss: 'We took a gut punch'

Biden addressed supporters in  New Hampshire on Wednesday, his only campaign event of the day before a prime-time televised town hall.

"I am not going to sugarcoat it. We took a gut punch in Iowa, the whole process took a gut punch. But look, this isn't the first time in my life I've been knocked down," he said.

"I'm going to fight for this nomination, and I'm going to fight for it here in New Hampshire and in Nevada and then South Carolina and beyond, because I know there are an awful lot of folks out there who are writing off this campaign," he added. "But I'll tell you what — they've been trying to do that from the moment I entered the race. Well, I got news for them. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going anywhere. I'm counting on New Hampshire. We are going to come back."

Iowa caucusgoer pulls Buttigieg vote after learning he's gay, viral video shows

The Time magazine cover photo didn’t do it. Nor did the March appearance on ABC’s “The View” or a year’s worth of digital and television news stories.

It was not until Monday night — after casting her caucus vote for presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg — that an Iowa Democratic caucus voter, known only as “Geert,” first learned that the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is gay and married a man in 2018.

“Are you saying he has a same-sex partner?” the woman asked in a now viral video that has garnered almost 3 million views on Twitter. “Are you kidding?”

A person nearby confirmed that information, saying “He’s married to him, yeah,” referring to Chasten Buttigieg.

“Then I don’t want anybody like that in the White House,” the shocked caucusgoer said. “So, can I have my card back?”

Nikki van den Heever, a Buttigieg campaign precinct captain, made an effort to appeal to the voter, who was otherwise unidentified in the video.

“The whole point of it is, though, he’s a human being, right? Just like you and me, and it shouldn’t really matter,” she said.

Read more about the viral exchange here and watch below:

Biden downplays potential Iowa loss, pivots to next early states

CONCORD, N.H. — Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday downplayed his potential fourth place loss in the Iowa Caucus by pointing out that there are three early primary states left in the cycle that he could still win.

Campaigning in New Hampshire, which is just days away from holding the first primary of the Democratic race, Biden said that while he wants “to do well in Iowa,” the first four states are an essential part of winning the nomination.

Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Concord, N.H., on Feb. 4, 2020.Rick Wilking / Reuters

“I count to four. The first four are the key,” he said to reporters. “Two caucuses and two primaries. And so we'll see.”

In the final days leading up to Iowa, Biden told caucus-goers that they do not necessarily pick the nominee but instead have the power to open the gate to several candidates in an effort to narrow the field.

Looking ahead to New Hampshire, Biden asked voters gathered in the state capital to get him through to the next round since they “set the tone for the whole, whole rest of the race.”

Biden was succinct at the event, pointing out later to reporters that the full results of Iowa aren’t in yet —especially in rural counties that he courted heavily.

“At this rate, New Hampshire may get the first vote after all,” Biden told the audience of roughly 175 people. “I’d like you to rocket me out of here to make sure this thing works, OK?”

Biden also told reporters that he would not contest the results of the Iowa caucus, and pointed out that his campaign will wait until all of the results go public.

On topics other than the caucus debacle, Biden ticked through his qualifications that make him deserving of the presidency. 

Biden also took direct swipes at Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on his "Medicare for All" plan, suggesting that Sanders has flipped on explaining funding for his plans and addressed his own health care plans. 

“I'm not suggesting that those who are for Medicare for All are playing with people, but … you've got to be able to get something done,” Biden said. “Who's going to support a plan that doesn't specify how much it costs or say how he's going to pay for it?”

Biden then promised voters that if such a plan were to pass, “the middle class is going to pay a big, big premium.”