Joe Biden’s campaign talked down the results of the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, saying “the process is tinged” because of unusual delays in tallying the votes.
“Look, the integrity of the process is tinged,” top Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders said Tuesday, according to The Washington Times. “We implore the Iowa Democratic Party to check, check again, and check a third time on their data to make sure the numbers are accurate.”
A toss-up in Iowa
Polls showed a toss-up in Iowa just before the Democratic caucuses, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and Pete Buttigieg surging while Biden seemed to languish. Preliminary results on Tuesday similarly showed Sanders and Buttigieg ahead of the former vice president.
The delay gave cover to all the candidates, however. When it became apparent Monday night that results would not be forthcoming, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) started a rush to the podium to claim victory and move on to New Hampshire, where the first true primary will take place next Tuesday.
Biden, for his part, said campaign staff reported that he performed well in Iowa.
With 71% of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Buttigieg was slightly ahead of Sanders in the voting, according to The Hill. Buttigieg had 26.8% of the vote, while Sanders had 25.2%.
Biden was fourth in the results so far with 15.4%, trailing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) by 3%.
An unfortunate accident?
It wasn’t clear when the full results would be available, but like Klobuchar, Buttigieg wasn’t waiting for that to declare victory.
“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 while campaigning Tuesday, according to The Hill.
Sen. Sanders has meanwhile claimed correctly that he received more actual votes from caucus-goers than any other candidate Monday night. Because of the way caucuses are done, some voters who first cast ballots for what are considered non-viable candidates get to vote a second time for one in the top tier.
The chaotic situation in Iowa has made it possible for any top candidate to claim victory; no one will really know who won until all the votes come in.
The problem with that approach is that no one’s claims really mean as much, so it dilutes the impact of Iowa on the overall primary process. The only real question is: was that done on purpose to lessen the blow for Biden, or was it just an unfortunate accident?