Iowa caucus results contain errors, inconsistencies: NYT

Results from the Iowa Democratic caucuses released on Wednesday show inconsistencies and errors that in some cases contradict the rules of the first-in-the-nation nominating contest, according to The New York Times.

An analysis by the Times published online on Thursday found inconsistent vote tallies, incorrect delegate allocations and, in a few instances, numbers reported by the Iowa Democratic Party that are different than the ones reported by individual precincts. 

The Hill was able to independently verify some of these errors after reviewing caucus results posted by the Iowa Democratic Party.

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There’s no evidence that the inconsistencies were intentional or that the two front-runners in the caucuses, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE (I-Vt.), significantly benefited from the errors. 

Mandy McClure, the communications director for the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP), told the Times in a statement that the state party has reported the caucus results as recorded by the individual precincts. 

“The caucus math work sheet is the official report on caucus night to the I.D.P., and the I.D.P. reports the results as delivered by the precinct chair,” McClure said in a statement to the Times. 

“This form must be signed by the caucus chair, the caucus secretary and representatives from each campaign in the room who attest to its accuracy. Under the rules of the delegate selection process, delegates are awarded based off the record of results as provided by each precinct caucus chair.”

But the apparent reporting issues raise questions about just how precise the results are after initial tallies were delayed this week following technical difficulties and quality control checks. As of Thursday morning, 97 percent of precincts in Iowa had reported results. 

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Buttigieg and Sanders are running neck-and-neck in the caucus results, separated by a scant 0.1 percentage point. Meanwhile, the current third- and fourth-place contenders, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE, are running well behind the two leaders.

One error in Indianola’s second precinct in Warren County, first identified by the Times, shows Sanders and Warren picking up support on the final caucus alignment even though neither was recorded as viable in the first alignment — an apparent violation of caucus rules.

In the same precinct, two other candidates, Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickNevada caucuses open with a few hiccups Hill TV's Saagar Enjeti slams the media's coverage of Deval Patrick's 2020 campaign The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg to face off with rivals at Nevada debate MORE, lost votes in the final alignment, even though both were apparently viable in the first alignment. 

Caucus rules dictate that, once a candidate is considered viable at a given precinct — usually meaning they notch at least 15 percent support in the first alignment — they cannot lose support on realignment. 

In another case, in the Cedar Township precinct in Johnson County, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE (D-Minn.) received 0.405 state delegate equivalents after getting 22 votes in the final alignment, while Sanders, who got 28 votes in the final alignment, received zero state delegate equivalents.

The Iowa Democratic Party has already identified and corrected some mistakes in the reporting process. 

As of Thursday morning, the campaigns and voters were still waiting for the final results of the caucuses, though it is unclear when the Iowa Democratic Party will release them. Meanwhile, the candidates have already moved on to New Hampshire, which holds its presidential primary on Tuesday.