© Getty Images
Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSuper PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary MORE maintained a thin lead as Monday's Democratic Iowa caucuses spilled into Tuesday without a winner.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton had 49.9 percent compared to Sanders's 49.6 percent. Her lead had reached 5 percentage points in early results.
The narrow margin means that the two candidates will leave Iowa with almost exactly the same amount of projected delegates. But a victory gives the winner a jolt of positive momentum as the nomination fight moves to New Hampshire.
Who that winner is may not be easily determined or decided without a challenge. Early Tuesday morning, Sanders's campaign told The Hill that the party did not send impartial staffers to 90 caucus sites and is now reaching out to candidates for help reporting the data. The party denied that allegation, but it may set up a dispute that could keep the outcome of the race in question for some time to come.
With the results still in flux, Clinton gave an upbeat speech late Monday night that avoided a direct proclamation of victory. Earlier in the evening, the campaign told MSNBC that it was declaring victory, something most media organizations were unwilling to do, given the tight race.
In her speech, Clinton said she was "breathing a big sigh of relief" and thanked her Iowa supporters.
"I am excited about really getting into the debate with Sen. Sanders about the best way forward to fight for us and America," she said.
After her speech, Clinton tweeted:
So grateful to everyone who gives your all to support this campaign. You made this possible. pic.twitter.com/gk58CeS3vF— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 2, 2016
Sanders reportedly delayed leaving the state for New Hampshire because of the close results.
Speaking shortly after Clinton gave her speech, Sanders thanked his enthusiastic crowd of supporters.
Noting that he had “no political organization, no money, no name recognition” and was “taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America…while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie.
To chants of “Bernie, Bernie,” the Vermont senator added: "It looks like we’ll have about half of the Iowa delegates."
He, too, tweeted:
Bernie SandersBernie SandersRepublican spin on Biden is off the mark Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'It's not coming out' Briahna Joy Gray: Biden must keep progressive promises or risk losing midterms MORE (@BernieSanders) February 2, 2016
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's suspended his campaign during a post-caucus speech after hovering around 0.5 percent support.
Those results are raw votes. The percentages instead represent projected state delegates that each candidate is winning from the more than 1,000 precincts across the state. Each precinct awards a handful of delegates to candidates based on the local results.
The Democratic caucus process does not include a recount provision, a Democratic aide told The Hill. That's because the Democrats don't use paper ballots like the Republicans, as supporters pick their candidates by physically moving to a certain space within the precinct room.
Since Clinton has a large lead among superdelegates and minority delegates, a Cook Political report released this month estimated that Sanders would have to more than double Clinton's delegate haul in Iowa to remain on track for victory. So as the two appear to head toward an even split, it's unclear whether Sanders can leverage the strong finish to cut into Clinton's leads in most state polls.
Coming into Monday night's caucuses, Clinton held a slight edge in polling, but Sanders showed momentum. Two months ago, the former first lady had a double-digit lead.