Buttigieg narrowly wins Iowa caucuses

Pete Buttigieg, Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Indiana mayor attends a campaign event in Merrimack, New Hampshire, U.S., February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Pete Buttigieg narrowly won Iowa’s Democratic presidential caucuses, the Iowa Democratic party said on Thursday, after a long delay in releasing the results of the first contest in the race to pick a challenger to Republican President Donald Trump.

Buttigieg, the moderate 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, edged out progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders by 26.2% to 26.1% of state-delegate equivalents – the data traditionally used to determine the winner – with 100% of precincts counted, the Iowa Democratic Party said.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren finished third with 18%, while former Vice President Joe Biden limped to a disappointing fourth with 15.8%. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar finished fifth with 12.3%.

The results, which have been marred by technical and organizational errors, could reshape the 2020 race for the Democratic presidential nomination for November’s election and raise doubts about the future of Biden, the one-time front-runner.

Iowa Democrats had poured into 1,600 schools, community centres and other public locations on Monday night to make their choices among the 11 candidates in the Democratic race.

But the Democratic candidates had already departed Iowa and turned their attention to the next nominating contest in New Hampshire on Feb. 11 before the first results were even released in two batches on Tuesday..

Officials blamed inconsistencies related to a new mobile app used for vote counting for the unusual delay in Iowa, the state that traditionally kicks off a U.S. presidential election campaign that culminates this year on Nov. 3.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called on Thursday for an audit of the Iowa caucuses after the technical glitch created uncertainty about the accuracy of the tally.

“I want to make sure every Iowa voter knows that their vote was counted,” Perez said in an interview with MSNBC.

He said any review was unlikely to change the composition of the state’s 41 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Iowa Democratic Party leader Troy Price said the local party did not plan to start an immediate audit and it would do so only if a candidate asked for one.

Before the final results were released, Sanders thanked Iowans for “the very strong victory they gave us” in Monday’s caucuses.

Asked later at a CNN event if he would request a recanvass, Sanders said: “We’ve got enough of Iowa. I think we should move on to New Hampshire.”

He added: “I suspect that at the end of the day, Mr. Buttigieg and I will have an equal number of delegates to the national convention.”