DES MOINES — It was another rough day for the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses, but it ended with a bang — complete results, finally.
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg holds an edge over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders by an historically narrow margin.
If Buttigieg’s lead holds, it would be closer even than Hillary Clinton’s victory over Sanders just four years ago.
According to the official results, Buttigieg has earned 564.012 state delegate equivalents — the measure by which the state party orders caucus results — and Sanders has earned 562.497.
As a share of the total delegates awarded, Buttigieg has earned 26.2 percent and Sanders 26.13 percent.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has earned 18 percent of the state delegate equivalents, former Vice President Joe Biden 15.9 percent, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar 12.3 percent.
The state party published the complete, official results just before 8 p.m. Thursday, 72 hours after Monday’s night’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Before that, Thursday was filled with news about multiple issues the state party had with collecting and reporting the results of Monday night’s caucuses. The New York Times discovered errors in reporting in more than 100 precincts. State party officials confirmed President Donald Trump’s supporters prank-called the party headquarters Monday night, contributing to the overwhelmed phone lines. And the head of the national Democratic Party has called for a recanvass, even though he does not have the authority.
One reason for delayed results was some precinct leaders, unable to connect with the state party via telephone Monday night — more on that later — gave up and put their precinct’s results in the mail.
“While I fully acknowledge that the reporting circumstances on Monday night were unacceptable, we owe it to the thousands of Iowa Democratic volunteers and caucusgoers to remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results,” state party chairman Troy Price said in a statement. “Throughout the collection of records of results, the IDP identified inconsistencies in the data and used our redundant paper records to promptly correct those errors. This is an ongoing process in close coordination with precinct chairs.”
The New York Times performed a review of the caucus results reported thus far, and found results from more than 100 precincts were “internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses,” it reported Thursday.
Inconsistencies included vote tallies that did not add up, precincts showing the wrong number of delegates for certain candidates, and mismatches between what the precincts and state party reported.
The Times said it had notified the state party of errors it found, and some remained unchanged Thursday.
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National party Chairman Tom Perez made a public request for the state party to conduct a recanvass of the caucus results. A recanvass involves rechecking the results reported by each precinct, not counting the 170,000 voter preference cards filed across the state.
“Enough is enough,” Perez tweeted. “In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass.
But caucuses are a state party function, so Perez has no authority in the matter.
In his statement, Price said the state party will conduct a recanvass if, per the rules, one of the presidential campaigns requests one.
“Should any presidential campaign in compliance with the Iowa Delegate Selection Plan request a recanvass, the IDP is prepared. In such a circumstance, the IDP will audit the paper records of report, as provided by the precinct chairs and signed by representatives of presidential campaigns,” Price said. “This is the official record of the Iowa Democratic caucus, and we are committed to ensuring the results accurately reflect the preference of Iowans.”
State party officials also confirmed reports that help explain why their phone lines were so busy Monday night: The number to call the state party was posted online, and state officials were flooded by calls from people asking for caucus results and from Trump supporters.
Bloomberg News, which first reported the news Wednesday evening, said state central committee member Ken Sagar told Iowa Democrats on a conference call that he was among those answering the hotline on caucus night and some people called in and expressed support for Trump.
Bloomberg News is owned by Michael Bloomberg, a Democratic candidate for president who chose not to campaign in Iowa.
“On Caucus Day, the Iowa Democratic Party experienced an unusually high volume of inbound phone calls to its Caucus hotline, including supporters of President Trump. The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party’s collection of results, but in no way affected the integrity of information gathered or the accuracy of data sets reported,” state party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said in a statement.
The party said it had 45 phones taking calls on the night of the caucuses, and they blocked the numbers of repeat callers.
NBC News reported the phone number to report caucus results was posted on a fringe internet message board along with encouragement to “clog the lines,”
Users on a 4chan message board repeatedly posted the phone number for the Iowa Democratic Party, which was found by a simple Google search, both as screenshots and in plain text, alongside instructions.
“They have to call in the results now. Very long hold times being reported. Phone line being clogged,” one user posted at about 10 p.m. CT on Monday, three hours after the caucuses began.
“Uh oh how unfortunate it would be for a bunch of mischief makers to start clogging the lines,” responded another anonymous user, sarcastically.