U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg claimed victory early Tuesday as the nominating race got off to a slow and rocky start in Iowa on Monday.
Results of the state’s caucuses were delayed for hours while party officials double-checked “inconsistencies” in the initial count.
“We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results. In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report,” Iowa Democratic Party Communications Director Mandy McClure said.
“This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results.”
While the party was finding a solution to the chaotic result and the results are now expected to be declared later Tuesday, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg declared victory.
“Iowa you have shocked the nation…Tonight, Iowa chose a new path,” he told his supporters in Des Moines.
“You chose to move on not just from the broken policies of the last few years, but the broken politics that got us here. Tomorrow, because of what we did here, the nation will have that choice too”, he said.
Front runner, former Vice President Joe Biden rallied his supporters at Drake University in Iowa and vowed to soldier on through the Democratic primary.
“From our indications, it’s going to be close, we are going to walk out of here with our share of delegates. We don’t know exactly what it is yet, but we feel good about where we are,” Biden said. “So it’s on to New Hampshire. Nevada, South Carolina. And well beyond. We are in this for the long haul.”
Biden continued to pitch himself as the best person to take on President Donald Trump, saying he has broad support and will unite people across demographics.
“Four more years of Donald Trump will fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” he said. “Character is on the ballot. That’s what it is.”
“Folks, we’re gonna do it, I promise you we’re going to get this done,” he added. “And God willing, we’ll do it together.”
And Senator Bernie Sanders, who was widely predicted to take the state claimed he has done well in the caucus election.
“I have a strong feeling that at some point the results will be announced. And when those results are announced, I have a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa,” Sanders told an enthusiastic crowd at his election headquarters in Des Moines,
Sanders then proceeded into a stump speech that wasn’t short on criticism of President Donald Trump and that touched on income inequality and Medicare For All.
“The message that Iowa has sent to the nation, the message shared by the American people, is that we want a government that represents all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors and the 1 percent,” Sanders said.
Voters poured into more than 1,600 schools, community centres and other public locations around Iowa, the first state to choose a November election challenger to Republican U.S. President Donald Trump.
Iowa voters were meeting to render judgment on a field of 11 Democratic contenders led by front-runners Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Vice President Joe Biden, who have battled for the top in recent Iowa opinion polls.
Long lines and heavy crowds were reported in some locations, but doors to the caucus sites closed and the process began at 7 p.m. CST (0100 GMT on Tuesday).
Mostly white, rural Iowa is the first test in the state-by-state battle to pick a Democratic nominee to face Trump in the Nov. 3 election. After more than a year of campaigning and more than $800 million in spending, the results in Iowa will begin to provide answers for a party desperately trying to figure out how to beat the businessman-turned-president.
Voters are pondering whether to back someone with appeal to independents and disaffected Republicans, like moderates Biden, Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of neighboring Minnesota, or someone who energizes the party’s liberal base and brings out new voters, like progressives Sanders and fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
At the caucus sites, voters gathered in groups by candidate preference in a public display of support. If a candidate did not reach a threshold of support of 15% of voters, the total needed to be considered viable, that candidates’ supporters were released to back another contender, leading to a further round of persuasion.
“We need a candidate who can bring our party together,” Warren told a caucus at a high school in Des Moines. “We need all our Democrats united. Most of all, you need someone who’s going to inspire people: Democrats, independents and Republicans.”
Even if one candidate wins by a commanding margin in Iowa, Democrats may still lack clear answers as the race moves on to the other three early voting states of New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina later in February.