Buttigieg in early lead in chaotic Iowa caucuses


Pete ButtigiegImage copyright

Pete Buttigieg has taken the lead in the Iowa caucuses, according to partial results from the chaotic first vote in the race to pick a Democratic White House candidate.

The Iowa Democratic Party said results from 62% of precincts show Mr Buttigieg was ahead on 26.9%, followed by Bernie Sanders on 25.1%.

Elizabeth Warren was third on 18.3% and Joe Biden fourth on 15.6%.

But the state party has still not declared a winner in Monday’s vote.

Amy Klobuchar was on 12.6%, and Andrew Yang on 1.1%, according to the other partial results released on Tuesday evening from all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Tom Steyer and Tulsi Gabbard were on less than 1%.

The results are the share of delegates needed to clinch the party nomination under America’s quirky political system. Iowa awards only 41 of the 1,991 delegates required to become the Democratic White House nominee.

But the state can offer crucial momentum – the last four of the party’s presidential standard-bearers have all won the Iowa caucuses.

Iowa was the first contest in a string of nationwide state-by-state votes, known as primaries and caucuses, that will culminate in the crowning of a Democratic White House candidate at the party national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in July.

The eventual nominee will challenge President Donald Trump, a Republican, in November’s White House election.

Where did it all go wrong?

Iowa Democratic party chairman Troy Price told a news conference on Tuesday evening the fiasco had been “simply unacceptable”.

“I apologise deeply,” he added.

“This was a coding error,” but the data was secure and fully verified, he insisted, as he promised a thorough review.

State party officials earlier said the problem was not the result of “a hack or an intrusion.”

Officials were being dispatched across the Hawkeye state to retrieve hard-copy results.

They are matching those numbers against results reported from precincts via a mobile app that many users said had crashed.

Voters flocked to more than 1,600 caucus sites, including libraries, high schools and community centres, on Monday.

President Trump said earlier that the Iowa Democratic caucuses were an “unmitigated disaster”.

Who is Pete Buttigieg?

Mr Buttigieg is an openly gay, 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

He is a former Harvard and Oxford University Rhodes scholar who served as a US Navy Reserve intelligence officer in Afghanistan and used to work for global management consultancy McKinsey.

Rivals say Mr Buttigieg, who is younger than Macaulay Culkin and Britney Spears, is too inexperienced to be US president.

But he says he is transformative outsider who can break the gridlock in Washington and defeat President Trump.

Flames lick at Biden’s heels

We finally have some 2020 Iowa caucuses results to talk about. And they’re going to generate a lot of talk – and hand-wringing.

There are clear winners, as Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg can both claim some kind of victory, depending on how the final tabulations come in.

There’s also a clear loser – Joe Biden. He entered Monday leading in some polls and hoping for a strong showing that would put to bed concerns that he is a flawed front-runner.

Instead those concerns are wide awake and pacing the room.

Unlike candidates like Mr Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Mr Buttigieg, the Biden campaign coffers are thin – and this Iowa performance isn’t opening any cash spigots.

It could have been worse for the former vice-president – he could have had to give a fourth-place concession speech on Monday night – but the end result is the same.

He was unable to land a knock-out blow on fellow moderate Amy Klobuchar, while Mr Buttigieg and Mr Sanders both exit Iowa strengthened, suggesting Mr Biden could be staring at a third-place finish – or worse – in New Hampshire.

Until proven otherwise, Biden still has his southern-state firewall, based on support from elderly and black voters. But the flames are licking at his heels.

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