DES MOINES – Three days later, not all precincts’ results are reported – one snail-mailed its results – and the winner remains in doubt.
The New York Times discovered errors in reporting of results from more than 100 precincts.
State party officials confirmed news reports that President Donald Trump-supporting prank callers added to overwhelmed phone lines on caucus night.
And the head of the national Democratic Party called for a re-canvass of the results, even though by caucus rules he does not have the authority.
These are your 2020 Iowa Democratic presidential precinct caucuses.
There has been widespread concern among Iowa Democrats that their first-in-the-nation status is in peril after a faulty app prevented them from reporting the results of their caucuses on Monday night.
Nothing happened Thursday that would assuage those fears.
For starters, the results are still not completely reported. As of Thursday afternoon, the Iowa Democratic Party had reported 97 percent of precincts’ results, leaving results from 54 of the 1,765 precincts unreported.
One reason for the delay was that some precinct leaders, when they were unable to connect with the state party via telephone on Monday night – more on that later – gave up and put their precinct’s results in the mail.
The state party said Thursday it had retrieved the results from 53 of the 54 remaining precincts, and the final precinct’s results were “in transit.”
The late-arriving results have delayed the outcome of a very close race in Iowa. With those 97 percent of precincts reporting, former mayor Pete Buttigieg led U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders by less than two-tenths of one percentage point.
Buttigieg had earned 26.23 percent of state delegate equivalents and Sanders 26.06 percent. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was next at 18.2 percent, former vice president Joe Biden at 15.8, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 12.2.
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“While I fully acknowledge that the reporting circumstances on Monday night were unacceptable, we owe it to the thousands of Iowa Democratic volunteers and caucus-goers to remain focused on collecting and reviewing incoming results,” state party chairman Troy Price said in a statement. “Throughout the collection of records of results, the IDP identified inconsistencies in the data and used our redundant paper records to promptly correct those errors. This is an ongoing process in close coordination with precinct chairs, and we are working diligently to report the final 54 precincts to get as close to final reporting as possible.”
The New York Times also identified inconsistencies in the data.
The Times reported Thursday that it performed a review of the caucus results reported thus far, and found that results from more than 100 precincts were “internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses”
According to the Times, those inconsistencies included vote tallies that did not add up, precincts showing the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates, and mismatches between what the precincts and state party reported.
The Times said it had been notifying the state party of errors it found, and some of those errors remained unchanged Thursday.
Later Thursday, national party chairman Tom Perez made a public request for the state party to conduct a re-canvass of the caucus results.
“Enough is enough. In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass,” Perez tweeted Thursday.
But the national party chairman does not have the authority to order a re-canvass of the caucuses, which are a state party function.
In his statement, Price said the state party will conduct a re-canvass – if, per the rules, one of the presidential campaigns requests one.
“Should any presidential campaign in compliance with the Iowa Delegate Selection Plan request a re-canvass, the IDP is prepared. In such a circumstance, the IDP will audit the paper records of report, as provided by the precinct chairs and signed by representatives of presidential campaigns,” Price said. “This is the official record of the Iowa Democratic caucus, and we are committed to ensuring the results accurately reflect the preference of Iowans.”
State party officials also on Thursday confirmed reports that help explain why their phone lines were so busy Monday night: the number to call the state party was posted online, and state officials were flooded by calls from people wanting to know the caucus results and from Trump supporters, according to multiple news reports citing state party officials.
Bloomberg, which first reported the news Wednesday evening, said state central committee member Ken Sagar told Iowa Democrats on a conference call that he was among those answering the hotline on caucus night and that people called in and expressed support for Trump.
“On Caucus Day, the Iowa Democratic Party experienced an unusually high volume of inbound phone calls to its Caucus hotline, including supporters of President Trump. The unexplained, and at times hostile, calls contributed to the delay in the Iowa Democratic Party’s collection of results, but in no way affected the integrity of information gathered or the accuracy of data sets reported,” state party spokeswoman Mandy McClure said in a statement.
The party said it had 45 phones taking calls on the night of the caucuses, and that they blocked the numbers of repeat callers.
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@PeteButtigieg Precinct Captain Katie Koehler holds the straw she drew to break a tie. 2 Yang voters decided to leave instead of realign + breaking the tie themselves. Seems to be a consistent mindset among Yang voters to leave, according to attendees I've talked to #IACaucus pic.twitter.com/xXtaTFsLou— Lisa Grouette (@LisaGrouette) February 4, 2020