The latest results in the delayed count of the Iowa caucus vote, with 97% of precincts reporting, shows that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a growing lead in the popular vote, and is just 0.1% behind former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg in the number of delegates (or “state delegate equivalents”).
The New York Times reported Thursday morning that Buttigieg has 550 “state delegate equivalents” (or SDEs, referring to the number of seats reserved for his delegates to the state party convention in March.) Sanders is only three delegates behind, at 547. With 54 precincts yet to report, it is possible that Sanders could become the official winner of the Iowa caucuses — a victory denied to him on Election Night.
Meanwhile, Sanders has a lead of roughly 2,500 “final” votes, amounting to 1.% percent of the total. He has a wider lead of nearly 6,000 “first” votes. The new Iowa caucus system allowed voters whose chosen candidate failed to clear 15% in a given precinct to re-allocate their votes to another candidate. Buttigieg was more successful than Sanders at picking up those second-choice votes, giving him more delegates.
The vote count has been riddled with technical problems, mistakes, and irregularities since the start. That, in turn, has fueled speculation that the state Democratic Party may have tried to hide the result to hurt Sanders or to help former Vice President Joe Biden, who finished a disappointing fourth. However, Biden’s camp had been saying since September that they did not see Iowa as a “must-win” contest.
Buttigieg also took criticism for declaring victory on Monday, though the numbers may back that claim.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.