Iowa Results: What We Know So Far – The New York Times


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‘A Complete Mess’: Still No Results from Iowa Caucus

Democratic candidates tried to spin the chaotic situation at the Iowa caucuses, and campaigned in New Hampshire as they awaited the results.

“It would not let me change his number at all, like to zero.” “So we’re going to need each representative to sign off on here from the preference group.” “So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa you have shocked the nation. By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.” “And when those results are announced, I have a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa.” “Thank you so much. So listen, it is too close to call. So I’m just going to tell you what I do know —” Audience member: “You won!” “We don’t know exactly what it is yet, but we feel good about where we are.” “You know technology can fail on us, and we have to go the old-fashioned way and count them by hand — that’s what we have to do.” “This simply is not the way that we should do this. It was a complete mess. It is not reliable in the way that we want this to be reliable when we’re starting off the process of electing the most important public servant in our country and in the world.” “Well I’d rather them be accurate than rush it.” “But when you expect the results, and you don’t get them, you are disappointed.”

Democratic candidates tried to spin the chaotic situation at the Iowa caucuses, and campaigned in New Hampshire as they awaited the results.CreditCredit…Mark Makela for The New York Times
  • The Iowa Democratic Party will begin releasing results from the caucuses at 5 p.m. Eastern time. The party blamed a “coding issue” in the app used to tabulate results. Officials in Nevada, the next state to hold caucuses, said they would not use a caucus app, as they had planned.

  • A frustrated pack of Democratic presidential candidates sought to turn the mood of chaos to their own advantage Tuesday morning as they barreled toward the next nominating contest, in New Hampshire. And Michael R. Bloomberg, the multibillionaire former New York City mayor, is trying to capitalize by doubling his spending on television commercials.

  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., among others, have events in New Hampshire today.

  • Unexplained inconsistencies in results, heated conference calls and firm denials of hacking: Read more about how the Iowa caucuses melted down.

The Iowa Democratic Party will begin to release results from Monday’s caucuses at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, its chairman, Troy Price, told the Democratic campaigns in a conference call.

Mr. Price told the campaigns that “the majority” of results the party had in hand would be made public later Tuesday, but he dodged questions from the campaigns about how much would be released and when final totals would become available.

“I don’t want to put a number on it but I can tell you it’s going to be more than 50 percent,” he said.

Officials on the call said the party was trying to verify results using paper records collected from each precinct and that it had dispatched staff members to collect them around the state.

The call quickly turned combative, as campaign representatives pressed the party officials about when results would be released and why it was taking so long.

“What do you have to back up these results?” one campaign representative asked.

“We have always said we have a paper trail in the process,” Mr. Price replied. “This is what we would have done on caucus night,” he added, of releasing verified results, as they have them.

Jeff Weaver, a senior aide to Mr. Sanders, praised the officials on the call and noted, “You do have a paper trail.” He warned rival campaigns against “discrediting the party,” a veiled reference to the Biden campaign, which had objected earlier in the call to the process.

“I do want to urge people in the interest of not discrediting the party, that folks who are just trying to delay the return of this because of their relative positioning in the results, last night, I think that’s a bit disingenuous,” Mr. Weaver said. “Those results should be rolled out as we get them.” But how long the process could take was not answered.

“Today, tomorrow, the next day, a week, a month?” said Jesse Harris, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden in Iowa, pressing the party. “We’re continuing to work through our process and just as soon as we can,” Mr. Price replied.

Democratic officials in Nevada tried to assuage fears that their Feb. 22 caucuses would not be a repeat of the Iowa meltdown. Officials said that they would not use the same app or vendor used in Iowa, despite previous plans to do so.

“NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada,” William McCurdy, the state party chairman said in a statement. “We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems, and are currently evaluating the best path forward.”

While the state had planned to use a similar app from the technology company Shadow to calculate its results, a state party official said that after the problems in Iowa became clear, that plan was scrapped. The state party had gone through a practice run with the app without any problems last weekend.

Now, Nevada Democratic Party officials are scrambling to decide which of their backup plans they will put in place for the caucuses. The state party paid Shadow at least $58,000 to develop an app, and officials believed the company had created a slightly different plan for the state.

The Nevada caucus works somewhat differently in Nevada than in Iowa, with early voting open for the first time this year with written preference cards for candidates printed in English, Spanish and Tagalog. More than 80 early voting locations will be open beginning Feb. 15.

The app used in Iowa was not properly tested at a statewide scale, said people who were briefed on the app by the state party.

The app was built by Shadow Inc., a for-profit technology company that is also used by the Nevada Democratic Party, the next state to hold a caucus, as well as by multiple presidential campaigns.

The secrecy around the app this year came from the Iowa Democratic Party, which asked that even its name be withheld from the public. Read more here.

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Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

COMPTON, Calif. — Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign moved on Tuesday to exploit the chaotic outcome of the Iowa caucuses, authorizing his campaign team to double his spending on television commercials in every market where he is currently advertising and expand his campaign’s field staff to more than 2,000 people, strategists involved in the conversations said.

The Bloomberg campaign has been trying to chart an unprecedented route to the Democratic nomination, skipping the first four contests in February but aggressively contesting the array of larger states that begin voting in March. From the outset, Mr. Bloomberg’s advisers believed the strategy would only have a chance of working if another moderate candidate — most likely former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — failed to emerge from February with a decisive upper hand in the race.

In an interview on Monday in Compton, Mr. Bloomberg was unusually blunt about his campaign spending strategy and his intent to seek advantages while his rivals toiled in the four early states, which have relatively few delegates needed to win the nomination.

“It’s much more efficient to go to the big states, to go to the swing states,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “The others chose to compete in the first four. And nobody makes them do it, they wanted to do it. I think part of it is because the conventional wisdom is ‘Oh you can’t possibly win without them.’”

Later, he added: “Those are old rules.”

Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor whose campaign is fueled by a multibillion-dollar personal fortune, conferred with advisers on Tuesday morning about the muddled results in Iowa. Encouraged by the murky outcome, Mr. Bloomberg authorized his campaign team to undertake the expansion in advertising and staff.

His campaign also released a new advertisement scheduled to be aired nationally Tuesday night, when President Trump is set to deliver his State of the Union address. The spot focuses on criticism of Mr. Trump, warning of a nation “divided by an angry, out-of-control president” and a White House “beset by lies, chaos and corruption.”

The advertisement tries to portray Mr. Bloomberg as the candidate who is best equipped to beat Mr. Trump in November.

The Iowa Democratic Party said Tuesday that there were delays in announcing the results from the precincts because the new app that it planned to use for its caucus results reported only partial data.

“As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound,” Mr. Price said. “While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed.”

The electoral debacle in Iowa raised bipartisan concerns on Capitol Hill about the caucus system, prompting one top Democrat — Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois — to suggest that it be abandoned entirely.

Mr. Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, complained that the caucus system “limits and restricts opportunities for people to vote,” effectively disenfranchising poor and working people who do not have time to attend.

“As I watched that on television last night, I thought to myself, ‘How many folks at the end of a workday, picking kids up from day care are likely to show up at the caucus?’ Not many,” Mr. Durbin said. “I think we’ve got to take a look at it as a party.”

Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner of Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat, both sought to tamp down fears that the caucus system had been hacked.

“We’re confident there was no outside interference in their system, and I’m sure the party in Iowa will figure out where their glitches were,” Mr. Burr told reporters.

“We have enough problems with the Russians and other foreign actors trying to destroy Americans’ trust in our elections — we don’t need to add fuel to the fires of those efforts,” Mr. Warner said in a statement.”

But Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who sought his party’s nomination for 2016, warned there would be more problems to come: “Think #IowaCaucus meltdown is bad?” he wrote on Twitter. “Imagine very close Presidential election Russian or Chinese hackers tamper with preliminary reporting system in key counties When the official results begin to be tabulated it shows a different winner than the preliminary results online.”

Sean Bagniewski had seen the problems coming.

It wasn’t so much that the new app that the Iowa Democratic Party had planned to use to report its caucus results didn’t work. It was that people were struggling to even log in or download it in the first place. After all, there had never been any app-specific training for this many precinct chairs.

So last Thursday Mr. Bagniewski, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Polk County, Iowa’s most populous, decided to scrap the app entirely, instructing his precinct chairs to simply call in the caucus results as they had always done.

The only problem was, when the time came during Monday’s caucuses, those precinct chairs could not connect with party leaders via phone. Mr. Bagniewski instructed his executive director to take pictures of the results with her smartphone and drive over to the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters to deliver them in person. She was turned away without explanation, he said.

It was a surreal opening act for the 2020 campaign that included unexplained “inconsistencies” in results that were not released to the public, heated conference calls with campaigns that were hung up on by the state party, firm denials of any kind of hacking and a presidential primary left in a strange state of almost suspended animation.

“A systemwide disaster,” said Derek Eadon, a former Iowa Democratic Party chairman.

Amid the chaos and confusion, there were conflicting candidate speeches declaring various degrees of victory, as Mr. Sanders’s campaign released its own set of favorable partial results, and multiple campaigns hoped that the mess would not lessen the eventual impact of what they said appeared to be a disappointing first test for Mr. Biden.

DES MOINES — In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters aboard his charter plane before it took off for New Hampshire, Mr. Sanders denounced the Iowa Democratic Party for not being able to report caucus results as his campaign released internal numbers that showed him winning the state on all metrics.

“I think we should all be disappointed in the inability of the party to come up with timely results,” he said. “But we are not casting aspersions on the votes that are being counted.”

“This is not a good thing,” he added. “This is not a good night for democracy.”

At the same time, his campaign released its internal results, with 60 percent of precincts counted, that it said showed Mr. Sanders winning the first head count and the count after realignment.

Still, Mr. Sanders stopped short of saying he had won, saying only that based on that information, “We’re in pretty good shape.”

“We’re not declaring victory,” he said.

He also expressed disappointment with the turnout numbers, after focusing his closing message on getting people out to caucus.

“What I have heard is they are somewhat higher than they were in 2016, not as high frankly as I would’ve liked to have seen,” he said.

Asked what his reaction was to Mr. Buttigieg declaring victory on Monday night, before any results were reported, Mr. Sanders was dismissive.

“I don’t know how anybody declares victory before you have official statement as to election results,” he said.

Mr. Sanders also said attempts by the Biden campaign to discredit the results were “unfair.”

KEENE, N.H. — Ms. Warren of Massachusetts called on the Iowa Democratic Party to “get it together,” saying the reporting errors that upended caucus results threatened to damage trust in the Democratic process.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Keene, her first in New Hampshire after landing at 4 a.m., Ms. Warren said reports that the Iowa Democratic Party planned to release half of the caucus results later this afternoon made little sense.

“I just don’t understand what that means to release half of the data,” she said. “So, I think they ought to get it together and release all of the data.”

Ms. Warren told the audience that the results showed a close race atop the Iowa field between her, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg. Her campaign has sought to frame the caucus results — however unclear — as a bad night for Mr. Biden.

Asked if voters will be able to trust results, Ms. Warren replied, “I hope they’ll be able to.” At the same time, her campaign sent an email to supporters framing the results as a good night for them amid a tumultuous time for democracy.

“I know there are reasons to feel frustrated and discouraged,” it read. “Yesterday we had a bumpy democratic process. Tonight a lawless president will deliver his State of the Union. Tomorrow Republicans in the Senate will likely declare that their loyalty is to Donald Trump rather than our Constitution and the rule of law.”

NASHUA, N.H. — Fresh off an overnight flight from Des Moines, Mr. Buttigieg met the mayor of Nashua, Jim Donchess, for a coffee at the Riverwalk Café downtown.

“You did a great job last night on your speech,” Mr. Donchess said, as he greeted Mr. Buttigieg on a sidewalk outside of the coffee shop.

“Thanks,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “Felt good.”

As the two men walked down the sidewalk, Mr. Buttigieg told the Nashua mayor that it was “frustrating” to not have good results, but said “you can’t deny” that he had had a strong night.

Mr. Donchess, a four-term mayor, announced his endorsement of Mr. Buttigieg this morning, though said he had been considering it for some time and was not influenced by the reports of a strong finish in Iowa.

Mr. Buttigieg lingered in the coffee shop for about 10 minutes, sitting down with three voters to talk about local issues. He ignored questions from reporters about whether his speech last night in Iowa, seemingly declaring victory absent any official results, was premature.

Voters here — both those who said they were undecided and those who said they would vote for Mr. Buttigieg — offered a collective shrug at the former mayor’s decision to declare victory in the absence of any official results.

Asked if it was appropriate for Mr. Buttigieg to have suggested he had won, Ben Gayman, an undecided voter from Manchester, did not hesitate.

“Of course,” he said. “They all did.”

A lot of reasons contributed to Monday night’s events, chiefly a breakdown of the process by which caucus leaders were supposed to report results to the Iowa Democratic Party.

But one factor was baked into that process from almost the moment the caucuses ended four years ago.

Historically, the party had focused on highlighting only one caucus result: the number of delegates each candidate had earned for the state convention. The winner of the Iowa caucuses was the person who earned the most state delegates, which translate into national delegates, which determine the nomination. This year, however, the state party chose to release four results from the caucuses.

That’s because in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged out Mr. Sanders in the state delegate count by a quarter of a percentage point, earning roughly 700 to Mr. Sanders’s 697. That meant 23 national delegates for Mrs. Clinton and 21 for Mr. Sanders — an inconsequential difference between the two rivals.

Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign fought for an audit in Iowa — comparing the reported results with the papers on which caucus leaders had recorded voters’ preferences — and accused the state Democratic Party of a lack of transparency.

Largely because of Mr. Sanders’s objections, the party decided to release additional numbers in 2020 that it had always logged but never made public: the number of supporters each candidate had in the first round of voting and the number he or she had in the second round, after nonviable candidates were eliminated and caucusgoers realigned.

The idea was that all this data would provide a fuller picture of each candidate’s strength. But it also made reporting the results more complicated. Read more here.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Peter Baker, Alexander Burns, Nick Corasaniti, Sydney Ember, Reid J. Epstein, Sheera Frenkel, Shane Goldmacher, Christine Hauser, Astead W. Herndon, Nicole Perlroth, Jonathan Martin, Jennifer Medina and Matt Stevens.