The results followed a chaotic count marred by technical issues, and an official winner has not been declared. Sanders, however, held a lead in the popular vote, and he claimed victory earlier in the day, noting that he had an advantage of roughly 6,000 votes in the first round of the caucuses and about 2,500 in the second round.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) finished third, with 18 percent of state delegate equivalents. Former vice president Joe Biden earned 15.8 percent, a disappointing fourth-place finish that he described as a “gut punch.”
And Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has 12.3 percent in state delegate equivalents.
All of the candidates have pledged to continue on in New Hampshire, where all are campaigning. Several of the candidates suggested they would not seek a recanvass of the Iowa results.
“I think we’ve got enough of Iowa,” Sanders said at a CNN town hall when asked whether he would request such a review. “We should move on to New Hampshire.”
Warren, too, said she was looking ahead to New Hampshire.
“I’m not focused on Iowa now,” she told reporters Thursday. “I’m focused on moving forward.”
In his own appearance on CNN, Buttigieg demurred when asked about a possible recanvass. “I’ll leave it to the party to get into that,” he said. “But what I’ll say is, nothing can take away what happened Monday night. It was an extraordinary moment.”
The final release of results late Thursday capped off Iowa’s first-in-the-nation nominating process — one that started off smoothly Monday, by most accounts, then devolved into chaos and uncertainty as precinct captains reported issues transmitting data to the state party using a new app. When the app failed, many tried calling in their precinct’s numbers over a party hotline, only to encounter hold times of more than an hour in some cases.
As Monday stretched into the wee hours of Tuesday morning — and with most candidates jetting off to New Hampshire, the next nominating state — there were still no official results available.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the state party released an initial batch of results, to the dismay of candidates like Biden and Warren, who said the party should have waited until all the results were available before publicizing them. Buttigieg, meanwhile, had already declared his campaign victorious the night before, ahead of leaving Iowa for New Hampshire.
Three days later, at his New Hampshire headquarters in Manchester, Sanders would also declare victory, citing popular vote numbers with 97 percent of the Iowa results in.
“What I want to do today, three days late, is to thank the people of Iowa for the very strong victory they gave us at the Iowa caucuses on Monday night,” Sanders said early Thursday afternoon. “When 6,000 more people come out for you in an election than your nearest opponent, we here in northern New England call that a victory.”
Though Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, had promised that forthcoming results would be accurate, another batch released Wednesday afternoon was quickly recalled after multiple people pointed out errors — including one that had given former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick a sudden boost in state delegate equivalents. Patrick, who waited until November to enter the race, had largely skipped campaigning in Iowa.
“There will be a minor correction to the last batch of results and we will be pushing an update momentarily,” the state party tweeted Wednesday.
State delegate equivalent figures show how support from caucus-goers roughly translates into the number of delegates each candidate will get at the state convention. Those then translate into how many of Iowa’s 41 pledged national delegates (out of 3,979 nationwide) each candidate will get.
Biden on Wednesday said the results were disheartening.
“I am not going to sugarcoat it,” he told a standing-room-only crowd at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. “We took a gut punch in Iowa. The whole process took a gut punch. But look, this isn’t the first time in my life I’ve been knocked down.”
Buttigieg called the early results “the single best piece of news” his campaign has received.
“This is definitely a victory for this campaign,” he told CNN on Tuesday, shortly after the early results were released. “I know we got some more math coming in, but any way you cut it . . . we’ve been able to do something extraordinary.”
Sanders’s campaign expressed more caution Tuesday but also was quick to highlight the candidate’s popular-vote edge.
“We want to thank the people of Iowa. We are gratified that in the partial data released so far, it’s clear that in the first and second round more people voted for Bernie than any other candidate in the field,” Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement regarding the early results.
Until this year, the Iowa Democratic Party released only state delegate equivalent counts, and those numbers remain the traditional metric for a campaign’s victory.