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Latest From Iowa: Buttigieg Still Leads On Delegates, Sanders On Votes, But It’s Close

The results from the Iowa Democratic caucuses continue to trickle in oh so slowly. On Wednesday afternoon, another batch of results was released, bringing the number of precincts reporting results to 86 percent. Here are the results:

Preliminary results from the Iowa caucuses

First alignment, final alignment and state delegate equivalents (SDEs) in the Iowa Democratic caucuses with about 86 percent of precincts reporting

Buttigieg 22% 26% 27%
Sanders 24 26 25
Warren 19 20 18
Biden 15 14 16
Klobuchar 13 12 12
Yang 5 1 1
Steyer 2 0 0
Uncommitted 1 1 0
Patrick 0 0 0
Gabbard 0 0 0
Bennet 0 0 0
Bloomberg 0 0 0

Source: Iowa Democratic Party

In the initial voter preference tallies, Sen. Bernie Sanders now leads former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg 24 percent to 22 percent, little changed from this morning. Going by final voter preference, Sanders currently leads Buttigieg by only 0.6 percentage points, 26.1 percent to 25.5 percent. That’s a tighter race than it was this morning. Finally, by state delegate equivalents, Buttigieg still leads Sanders 27 percent to 25 percent, the same as this morning. Most media outlets are using that last measure as the ultimate judge of who “won” Iowa, since those numbers are how national convention delegates are decided.

Given that 14 percent of precincts have yet to report, no outlet has yet “called” the race for either Buttigieg or Sanders. But it is increasingly likely that Buttigieg will win the most state delegate equivalents. For instance, The New York Times’s model of the outstanding vote now says that there is a greater than 95 percent chance that Buttigieg will hold onto his delegate lead. The Times also thinks it is virtually certain that Sanders will win the initial vote, but there’s still suspense over who will win the final alignment vote — Buttigieg and Sanders are currently equally likely to.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren remains in third place in Iowa — a handful of points behind the front-runners by all three measures — and former Vice President Joe Biden is even further back in fourth place. On Wednesday, Biden finally seemed to acknowledge his disappointing performance, saying, “I’m not going to sugarcoat it — we took a gut punch in Iowa.” Further down the ballot, Sen. Amy Klobuchar trailed Biden by a small margin in all three measures, while Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer did significantly worse. Because of the realignment process and the fact that they were viable in so few precincts, their shares of the final vote and of state delegate equivalents were at or below 1 percent.

Here are the results so far in each of Iowa’s 99 counties, as well as how many precincts in them are reporting. Buttigieg is winning the most counties by virtue of his support among rural Democrats; however, Sanders has the lead in some of the most populous counties in the state, most significantly Polk (where Des Moines is located).

The county-level results in Iowa (so far)

Final alignment vote shares, with 86 percent of precincts reporting

Source: Iowa Democratic Party

Sanders also is winning (going by the post-realignment vote share measure) in three of Iowa’s four congressional districts — important because delegates are awarded at the district as well as at the state level. The only exception is the 3rd District, where Buttigieg is 4 points ahead — likely as a result of his strength in upper-middle-class Des Moines suburbs such as those in Dallas County.

The latest district-level results in Iowa

Final alignment vote shares, with 86 percent of precincts reporting

Congressional district Precincts reporting Sanders Biden Buttigieg Warren
1st 90% 26% 16% 25% 19%
2nd 87 29 11 24 24
3rd 86 24 14 28 21
4th 87 25 15 24 16

Source: Iowa Democratic Party

Unfortunately, we still have no clear picture of when we’ll know the results in 100 percent of Iowa precincts. At the current rate, however, it may only take a couple more updates, so perhaps we will have the complete picture by this time tomorrow.

Nathaniel Rakich is a senior editor and senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.