In Iowa, everyone is a winner.
At least, that’s what it seemed like Monday evening as the Democratic candidates leading in pre-caucus Iowa polls — Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — as well as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, each gave their own version of a glowing victory speech. They did so without having any official numbers to back their optimism.
There’s been a long delay in the release of the Iowa caucus results due to technical difficulties, and the Iowa Democratic Party has announced the numbers won’t be out until later Tuesday. Presidential candidates have capitalized on this lack of results by crafting their own narratives about the night.
Klobuchar was first to deliver remarks, in a speech in which she congratulated her campaign for “punching above our weight.”
“We are feeling so good tonight, and I cannot wait — somehow, some way, I’m gonna get on a plane tonight to New Hampshire,” Klobuchar told her supporters. “We are bringing this ticket to New Hampshire.”
Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar gives a speech during a delay in the results of the Iowa caucus, telling American voters 'join us.’ Live updates from #IowaCaucuses https://t.co/DiWoAYLaXH pic.twitter.com/BoQYp8LK8v— Reuters (@Reuters) February 4, 2020
Biden was second to speak. With his wife by his side, he said, “We feel good about where we are.” Although he acknowledged that the results would be close, he said he’d walk out with a fair share of delegates. Despite his confidence, however, anecdotal reports from precincts have flooded Twitter with bad news for Biden. (Again, it is important to note we lack a full picture of the results at precincts across the state.)
WATCH LIVE: Joe Biden gives speech at 2020 Iowa caucuses https://t.co/OdmZrDIXYH— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) February 4, 2020
Meanwhile, Warren was more reserved, asking for patience, saying that the race was “too close to call.” But she didn’t shy away from giving her campaign a glowing review.
“We don’t know all the results tonight, but tonight has already showed that Americans have a deep hunger for big, structural change to make our economy and our democracy work for everyone,” she said. “Tonight showed that our path to victory is to fight hard for the changes that everyone is demanding.”
On Tuesday, Donald Trump will make a speech about the state of the union.— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) February 4, 2020
But I have a message for every American: Our union is stronger than Donald Trump. And tonight, as a party, we are one step closer to defeating the most corrupt president in American history. pic.twitter.com/12AYpFIO9r
Sanders, too, pointed to a successful night, and told his followers that he had “a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa.” And despite the lack of official data, he wants his supporters to know that he has the numbers to back his optimism: The campaign released its internal caucuses results, showing Sanders coming in first with 28 percent of the state delegate equivalents.
Bernie Sanders and the other Democratic presidential candidates gave modified victory speeches late Monday night as reporting "inconsistencies" delayed Iowa caucus results https://t.co/tzdjqsHU3a pic.twitter.com/6GTtd0qKAG— POLITICO (@politico) February 4, 2020
Buttigieg — who also released internal caucus numbers that indicated the former South Bend mayor had a strong performance — gave the most straightforward victory speech out of all the candidates: “So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation,” he said. “Because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”
Pete Buttigieg: "Make no mistake, ours is the campaign that will defeat this president"— Bloomberg (@business) February 4, 2020
With the official outcome of the Iowa caucus delayed by reporting 'inconsistencies', the Democratic presidential candidate delivers a speech to his supporters https://t.co/O3scSIaGEb pic.twitter.com/rYjVbLcFge
None of these speeches are backed with any official data from the party, of course. But that hasn’t stopped the candidates from trying to leave Iowa by setting a victorious tone in a tight race that — at this stage in the primary — is as much about narrative as it is delegate counts.