Pete Buttigieg has kept a narrow lead in Iowa’s Democratic presidential caucuses after a days-long count and reports of inaccuracies – as Bernie Sanders declares he’s had enough and says he won’t call for re-canvassing after the fiasco.
The Iowa Democratic Party revealed Thursday night that Buttigieg (26.2%) had edged out Sanders (26.1%) by just 0.1 per cent in state delegates with 100 percent of precincts counted.
Both candidates had earlier declared themselves victorious.
Buttigieg had declared himself the winner based on the number of delegates from the Midwestern state while Sanders claimed victory based on the popular vote.
Sanders, the progressive Vermont Senator, vowed not to call for a re-canvass and said he was ready to move on from the debacle.
‘We’ve had enough of Iowa. I think we should move on to New Hampshire,’ he said, when asked by CNN’s Anderson Cooper whether he would request a canvass.
Soon after, Buttigieg – the former South Bend Mayor – appeared at CNN’s town hall and was told new results showed he was victorious.
‘That’s fantastic news to hear that we won,’ he told interviewer Chris Cuomo. ‘First of all, I want to say, Senator Sanders clearly had a great night too and I congratulate him and his supporters.’
Pressed on whether he would seek a canvass, Buttigieg said he would ‘leave it to the party,’ saying they should do ‘whatever they need to do in order to make sure that the information is clear and verified.’
Following the results, Buttigieg said it proved his ‘electability’ over his more centrist rival Joe Biden.
He told TMZ: ‘I can’t tell him how to ruin his campaign, but I’ll say this: If your focus is on electablity, and you bet that’s a big consideration when you think how important it is to so many of us we just make sure we are ready to defeat Donald Trump.
‘For the last year every candidate, of more than 20 candidates, have been working and seeking to gain support and claiming that they would be one.
‘The first chance to actually prove it was in Iowa, and so the best way that I think to demonstrate you’re a candidate who can win is to go win.
‘And that continues to be our focus coming out of Iowa and going in to New Hampshire and the states that lie a head.’
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez asked the Iowa Democratic Party to conduct a recanvass.
‘Enough is enough,’ Perez said on Twitter. ‘In order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass.’
Perez said it would involve an examination of the results from each caucus site rather than a full recount.
The state party put out a statement saying it would not occur unless requested by a candidate.
The candidates have until Friday to call for a recanvass.
Perez sought the recanvass following days of uncertainty about the results reported by the Iowa Democratic Party, which includes technology problems with the mobile phone app used by the party to collect results from caucus sites, an overwhelming number of calls to the party’s backup phone system and a subsequent delay of several days of reporting the results.
The state party apologized for technical glitches with the app that slowed down reporting of results from Monday’s caucuses and has spent the week trying to verify results.
The caucus crisis was an embarrassing twist after months of promoting Iowa as a chance for Democrats to find some clarity in a jumbled 2020 field.
Instead, after a buildup that featured seven rounds of debates, nearly $1 billion spent nationwide and a year of political jockeying, caucus day ended with no winner and no official results.
Campaigning in New Hampshire, Sanders called the Iowa Democratic Party’s management of the caucuses a ‘screw-up’ that has been ‘extremely unfair’ to the candidates and their supporters.
He pointed to his lead in Iowa’s actual vote totals.
‘In other words, some 6,000 more Iowans came out on caucus night to support our candidacy than the candidacy of anyone else,’ he said.
‘From where I come from, the person who gets the most votes wins,’ he said, arguing that too much emphasis was being put on delegate totals.
At the end of the day, he said the caucus system is ‘much, much, much too complicated’ and it was a mistake for the state party to ‘rely on untested technology.’
Meanwhile, Buttigieg addressed a few hundred supporters at American Legion post in Merrimack, New Hampshire, where he only made a brief mention of the mishaps in Iowa.
‘New Hampshire is not the kind of place to let Iowa or anybody else tell you what to do,’ he told military veterans and other voters.
‘It has been an extraordinary week and we are absolutely electrified… by the extraordinary validation of this campaign’s vision that we had in Iowa.’
He also turned an eye toward the state’s primary vote that will be held Tuesday.
‘So I know in the days leading up to primary day it is my responsibility to seek to earn every vote in a state that famously thinks for itself, in a state that lives by the motto of ‘Live Free or Die’,’ he said.
In Iowa, Senator Elizabeth Warren finished third with 18%, while former Vice President Joe Biden limped to a disappointing fourth with 15.8% and Senator Amy Klobuchar finished fifth with 12.3%.
Biden, the national frontrunner who described his likely fourth-place finish in Iowa as a ‘gut punch’, met with advisors on Thursday to map out strategy.
‘I expected to do better,’ Biden, 77, said as he launched attacks on rivals.
‘If Senator Sanders is the nominee for the party, every Democrat in America… will have to carry the label Senator Sanders has chosen for himself,’ Biden said of the self-described democratic socialist.
Biden, who served in the Senate for 36 years before becoming Barack Obama’s vice president, said 38-year-old Buttigieg’s lack of experience was ‘a risk’ for Democrats.
The two Iowa leaders, Buttigieg and Sanders, are separated by 40 years in age and conflicting ideology.
Sanders, a 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist, has been a progressive powerhouse for decades.
Buttigieg, a 38-year-old former municipal official, represents the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party. Buttigieg is also the first openly gay candidate to earn presidential primary delegates.
Iowa marked the first contest in a primary season that will span all 50 states and several U.S. territories, ending at the party’s national convention in July.
In the Iowa saga, numerous precincts had reported results that contained errors or were inconsistent with party rules. For example, dozens of precincts reported more final alignment votes than first alignment votes, which is not possible under party rules. In other precincts, viable candidates lost votes from the first alignment tally to the final, which is also inconsistent with party rules.
Some precincts made apparent errors in awarding state delegate equivalents to candidates. A handful of precincts awarded more state delegate equivalents than they had available. A few others didn’t award all of theirs.
The trouble began with an app that the Iowa Democratic Party used to tabulate the results of the contest. The app was rolled out shortly before caucusing began and did not go through rigorous testing.
The problems were compounded when phone lines for reporting the outcomes became jammed, with many callers placed on hold for hours in order to report outcomes. Party officials said the backlog was exacerbated by calls from people around the country who accessed the number and appeared intent on disrupting the process.
President Donald Trump relished in the Democratic turmoil.
‘The Democrats, they can’t count some simple votes and yet they want to take over your health care system,’ Trump said at a White House event Thursday celebrating his impeachment trial acquittal. ‘Think of that – no, think of that.’