Skip to Content

Associated Press unable to declare winner of Iowa Caucuses

DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) -- The Associated Press is unable to declare a winner in Iowa's 2020 Democratic caucuses.

With 97% of precincts reporting, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by three state delegate equivalents out of 2,098 counted. That is a margin of 0.14 percentage points.

However, even as the Iowa Democratic Party's effort to complete its tabulation of the caucus results remains ongoing, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Thursday asked the Iowa Democratic Party to conduct a recanvass. That is not a recount, but rather a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added correctly.

Perez sought the recanvass following days of uncertainty about the results reported by the Iowa Democratic Party, which includes technology problems with the mobile phone app used by the party to collect results from caucus sites, an overwhelming number of calls to the party's backup phone system and a subsequent delay of several days of reporting the results.

The Iowa Democratic Party suggested it may not comply with Perez's request, issuing a statement that said it would conduct a recanvass if one was requested by one of the candidates.

Further, the party has yet to report results from some satellite caucus sites, from which there is still an unknown number of state delegate equivalents to be won.

"The Associated Press calls a race when there is a clear indication of a winner. Because of a tight margin between former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders and the irregularities in this year's caucus process, it is not possible to determine a winner at this point," said Sally Buzbee, AP's senior vice president and executive editor.

AP will continue to report and review the results from the Iowa Democratic Party as the party completes its tabulation, as well as the results of any potential recanvass or recount.

Unlike a government-run primary election, the Iowa caucuses are an event run by the Iowa Democratic Party. For the first time, the party in 2020 released three sets of results from its caucuses: the "first alignment" and "final alignment" of caucusgoers, as well as the number of "state delegate equivalents" that each candidate receives. Previously, it released only the tally of state delegate equivalents.

During the caucuses, voters arriving at their caucus site filled out a card that lists their first choice; those results determine the "first alignment." Caucusgoers whose first-choice candidate failed to get at least 15% of the vote at their caucus site could switch their support to a different candidate. After they had done so, the results were tabulated again to determine the caucus site's "final alignment."

The final alignment votes were then used to calculate the number of state convention delegates -- or "state delegate equivalents" -- awarded to each candidate. There is evidence the party did not accurately tabulate some final alignment votes or correctly award state delegate equivalents in some precincts.

AP has always declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses based on the number of state delegate equivalents each candidate receives. That's because Democrats choose their overall nominee based on delegates.

While the first alignment and final alignment provide insight into the process, state delegate equivalents have the most direct bearing on the metric Democrats use to pick their nominee.

Associated Press

Skip to content