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Democratic Party's partial results: Pete Buttigieg leads Iowa with Bernie Sanders in second place

The start of the elections has been thrown into chaos.

Updated Feb 5th 2020, 2:14 PM

election-2020-pete-buttigieg Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks to supporters at last night's caucus campaign rally Source: Charlie Neibergall via PA Images

DEMOCRATIC WHITE HOUSE candidate Pete Buttigieg seized a shock lead in the chaotic Iowa caucuses, closely trailed by leftist senator Bernie Sanders, according to partial returns released last night after a delay in reporting the results.

Progressive standard-bearer Elizabeth Warren was in third place followed by Joe Biden, a disappointing showing for the former vice president who has claimed he is best positioned to defeat Donald Trump in November.

Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has been battling Biden for the moderate wing of the party, hailed what he called an “astonishing victory” in the midwestern farm state which kicks off the presidential nominating process.

“I have never been more confident in our campaign, in our team, and in the vision that brought to us this point,” Buttigieg told ecstatic supporters in New Hampshire, which holds the next nominating contest on 11 February.

With polls still mixed on whether Americans would be comfortable with an openly gay president, Buttigieg also made a rare, though implicit, reference to his sexuality – and the added significance it gave the Iowa outcome.

“It validates for a kid, somewhere in a community, wondering if he belongs, or she belongs, or they belong in their own family, that if you believe in yourself and your country there’s a lot backing up that belief,” he said with a catch in his voice.

Partial results

According to the partial results, Buttigieg, unknown nationally a year ago, leads with 26.8% followed by Sanders, the 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist, with 25.2%, followed by Senator Warren with 18.4%, and Biden with 15.4%.

The centrist senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar was in fifth place on 12.6%, with 71% of the precincts reporting.

The results were posted some 21 hours after Iowans gathered across the state to hold the first vote of the presidential nominating season.

election-2020-bernie-sanders Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaking at last night's rally Source: Pablo Martinez Monsivais via PA Images

Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, apologised profusely for the delay and blamed it on a “coding error” with an app being used for the first time to report the returns from precincts across the farm state.

Price pledged to provide the full results as soon as possible.

“We have been working day and night to make sure that the results are accurate,” he said.

“And we also have a paper trail and documentation that we have been able to use to provide information to help verify the results.”

As Iowa struggled to publish the results and frustrated Democratic candidates fumed, Trump pounced on the hold-up, describing the Democrats’ failure to deliver timely results as an “unmitigated disaster”.

“Nothing works, just like they ran the country,” tweeted Trump – hours before delivering his annual State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress under the cloud of impeachment.

election-2020-elizabeth-warren Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren last night Source: Andrew Harnik via PA Images

‘Shocking incompetence’

The results are usually known within hours of the conclusion of the caucuses, which do not involve a traditional ballot but see voters attending public gatherings and voicing support for the candidate of their choice.

Iowa kicks off the process of selecting presidential nominees every four years, but the fiasco surrounding the results is likely to increase calls for the state to lose the honour.

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“The top finishers, probably Sanders and Buttigieg, could have used their showings to launch into New Hampshire,” the next contest, said Larry Sabato, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia.

“Instead, the story is the shocking incompetence of the Iowa Democratic Party.”

He called for an end to the “strange system in a 91% white state” in favour of giving other states a chance to kick off the process.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner expressed alarm over the Iowa debacle.

“This chaos has created an environment where misinformation is now running rampant online, further undermining confidence in the democratic process,” he said.

© – AFP 2020

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