At long last, the Iowa Democratic Party is reporting its 2020 caucus results.
By late Wednesday evening — and after an initial delay of nearly a day after the caucuses took place — the state party had posted nearly all of the results.
The delay in the count has been highly unusual and was driven by a combination of technical difficulties and human error. A poorly performing app for reporting results, a poorly staffed backup phone line for reporting results, and complicated new rules all seem to have played a role in the delay.
So far, the Iowa Democratic Party has not given a timetable for when it will release the results from the remaining precincts.
There are three separate metrics to watch in these results.
The traditional way Iowa Democrats have determined who wins the Iowa caucuses is by state delegate equivalents. This is essentially taking the final results of the 1,600-plus precinct caucuses — which conclude in allotting county convention delegates to candidates — and weighting them to estimate how many state delegates that would correspond to. We’re displaying that number here as it comes in, and if you’re interested in understanding the math behind this in further detail, I have a longer explainer at this link.
So in this current count of state delegate equivalents, Pete Buttigieg has a narrow lead, with Bernie Sanders close behind. Elizabeth Warren is a bit further back for third place, followed by Joe Biden in fourth and Amy Klobuchar in fifth. (Remember, there are still a number of precincts remaining to be counted and these results could certainly change.)
Now also, this year for the first time, Iowa Democrats are releasing actual vote totals from the caucuses. First, they will release the initial vote totals each candidate got at each precinct — added up for a statewide total. This is the pre-realignment vote total, or Round 1.
So it turns out that Sanders is in first place with a plurality of first-round votes. Buttigieg and Warren are in second and third, with Biden and Klobuchar in fourth and fifth. (And once again, these are not final vote totals and there are many remaining votes to be counted.)
After that, at each caucus gathering, supporters of candidates who are viable — above a particular threshold (15 percent in most precincts) — are locked in. However, supporters of nonviable candidates then have the opportunity to realign and change their votes. After this, we get the final vote total, displayed below.
As you can see, things changed a bit from the first tally. Sanders is still in first place, but Buttigieg has gotten a lot closer — he gained about 4 percentage points after the realignment, while Sanders gained a little more than 1 percentage point. Warren gained slightly more than 2 percentage points, but Biden and Klobuchar both lost support. (And, for the final time, these results are only partial and they will change as more precincts come in.)
So far, it’s too early to call a winner for any of these metrics. What we are seeing is really that the caucuses were quite close. So far, there are only a few thousand results separating the top three candidates. Still, the results so far are obviously most encouraging for Sanders and Buttigieg (the latter of whom already declared victory before any results were in), while they’re mediocre for Warren and certainly disappointing for Biden. But all of this is, of course, subject to change as more results come in.
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