Buttigieg maintains slim lead after second round of Iowa results released

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden's Big Labor policies will create next round of inflation Airlines should give flight attendants 10 hours of rest between flights: FAA GOP memo urges lawmakers to blame White House 'grinches' for Christmas delays MORE maintained his slim lead in the Iowa caucuses after the second round of results from the Monday night contest was released.

The results, which accounted for roughly 71 percent of the precincts that voted, showed the former South Bend, Ind., mayor with 26.8 percent of the delegate share. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Study finds Pfizer vaccine almost 91 percent effective for 5 to 11 year olds The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (I-Vt.) nipped at his heels with 25.2 percent. 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSinema's office outlines opposition to tax rate hikes The CFPB's data overreach hurts the businesses it claims to help Runaway higher ed spending gains little except endless student debt MORE (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE rounded out the top four with 18.4 percent and 15.4 percent, respectively.

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The Iowa Democratic Party earlier Tuesday released results for 62 percent of precincts, showing Buttigieg and Sanders in the lead. With the substantial number of precincts left to count and the margin so slim, the race remains too close to call.

Despite no official winner being declared, Buttigieg has already declared himself the victor as he works to gin up support heading into the New Hampshire primary next week.

“So we don’t know all the numbers, but we know this much: a campaign that started a year ago with four staff members, no name recognition, no money, just a big idea, a campaign that some said should have no business even making this attempt, has taken its place at the front of this race to replace the current president with a better vision for the future,” he said at a campaign stop Tuesday. 

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Sanders’s camp also expressed confidence that it would ultimately come out of Iowa with a top-tier showing, casting itself as the winner as well.

“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,” said Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver.

Sanders won over more supporters in the caucuses, according to the existing tallies, but a combination of geographic distribution and a realignment process that gives someone who supports a nonviable candidate a second chance to influence the process meant Buttigieg won a higher share of the delegate vote released so far.

The results released thus far also flashed a warning sign for Biden, who had campaigned heavily on his electability but trailed both Buttigieg and Sanders by roughly 10 points. 

The Iowa Democratic Party is expected to continue rolling out more results on Wednesday after a breakdown on a new app meant to speed up reporting instead caused inconsistencies and sparked confusion on Monday, leading to the delayed results.