The Iowa caucuses have come and gone, and we still don’t have a good idea of who officially won and lost, due to technical issues.
But to fill some of the gap for now, the campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have put out some preliminary numbers.
The figures should be taken with a grain of salt. Each, unsurprisingly, casts the candidate who released them in a favorable light, and the final rankings could be different. But they help provide some insight into how the caucuses went until we get some official answers.
Sanders released results covering the whole slate of candidates, from former Vice President Joe Biden to Sen. Amy Klobuchar to businessman Tom Steyer. They cover nearly 40 percent of precincts — so the majority of precincts are missing — but they show Sanders on top, followed by Buttigieg, then Sen. Elizabeth Warren, then Biden:
There are a bunch of numbers here, but the most consequential in the long term are the state delegate equivalents. This is, in short, how many delegates each candidate will get at the Democratic convention, as Andrew Prokop explained for Vox. That value is tabulated after multiple counts at the caucus precincts. The rounds of caucusing are to find out which candidates are “viable” — meaning they received 15 percent support or more at a given site — and let caucus attendees realign with another campaign if the candidate they initially supported is deemed not viable.
Buttigieg put out less comprehensive numbers, focusing only on how his campaign did. But his count claims to be more expansive in terms of precincts, covering roughly 75 percent of them. According to the campaign’s tally, Buttigieg got 22 percent of the vote on the first alignment, 25 percent on the final alignment (after supporters of nonviable candidates switched their support to him), and 28 percent of the state delegate equivalents — not too far off from where Sanders’s count puts him.
The overall results released by the Sanders campaign are very good for the Vermont senator, who’s in first place. They’re also pretty good for Buttigieg, with a close second-place finish. Warren, at third, isn’t too far behind.
But these results would also be disastrous for Biden. Even as the frontrunner in the national polls, Biden wasn’t expected to win in Iowa. But the expectations were he could do better than fourth place. The polling put him at second, and it’s just not a good look for someone who’s expected to win the whole race to come in fourth in the first contest.
It’s hard to say what other conclusions could be drawn from final results similar to these. Sanders was already ahead in the polls in New Hampshire, which is the next state to go in the primary process, and he could get a momentum boost if he does indeed get an Iowa victory. Buttigieg was lagging in fourth in the New Hampshire polls, but he might receive some momentum from a surprising second-place finish and a potential collapse from Biden.
Before we know if any of that is going to happen, though, we’ll have to get the final, official results. For now, we’ll have to settle for some preliminary data from two of the campaigns that seemed to do well Monday night.