Update: Hillary Clinton claims razor-thin win in Iowa

Iowa Democratic Party officials worked into the early morning Tuesday trying to account for caucus results from a handful of tardy precincts in the extremely close presidential caucus race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Some Democratic precinct results unaccounted for:

HillaryBy 2:30 a.m., the party announced that it had results from 1,682 of 1,683 precincts, and that Clinton had eked out a slim victory.

The party had reached out to the Clinton and Sanders campaigns late Monday asking for their help in tracking down missing results.

The Des Moines Register reports, Clinton camp claims narrow victory over Sanders:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign claimed a slim victory early Tuesday over populist firebrand Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, though his spokeswoman said the results were not settled.

Iowa Democratic Party officials worked into the early morning hours, trying to chase down results from a handful of precincts. About 2:30 a.m., the party’s website showed that Clinton had 49.9 percent of the delegates to Sanders’ 49.6 percent, with 1,682 of 1,683 precincts reporting.

Clinton’s Iowa campaign manager, Matt Paul, said she had won. “After thorough reporting — and analysis — of results, there is no uncertainty, and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates,” Paul wrote in a statement. “Statistically, there is no outstanding information that could change the results and no way that Sen. Sanders can overcome Secretary Clinton’s advantage.”

But Sanders spokeswoman Rania Batrice noted that one precinct in Polk County remained outstanding, and she said there were questions about the results in several other counties.

“We definitely don’t feel comfortable yet,” she said early Tuesday.

State Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire said the results were the closest in Iowa caucus history. “Hillary Clinton has been awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, Bernie Sanders has been awarded 695.49 state delegate equivalents, (former Maryland Gov.) Martin O’Malley has been awarded 7.68 state delegate equivalents and uncommitted has been awarded .46 state delegate equivalents,” she wrote in a statement about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. She said the missing Des Moines precinct was worth 2.28 state delegate equivalents.

Democratic Iowa caucus results are reported by a complicated system of “delegate equivalents” rather than by voter head count.

Sanders, who started the race far behind Clinton, declared Monday night that even if the former secretary of state edged him, he considered the near tie a great accomplishment.

“I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment and, by the way, to the media establishment,” Sanders told supporters.

Many political experts dismissed Sanders’ chances when he joined the race last May. But the Vermont senator drew increasingly big and enthusiastic crowds by relentlessly projecting his passion to fight economic injustice.

Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, was several laps behind Clinton when the race began.

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With no clear winner Monday night, Clinton took the stage at her “victory party” at Drake University. She voiced appreciation for the third Democratic candidate, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who had just suspended his campaign after failing to gain traction here. Then she told hundreds of cheering fans that she was excited about continuing her competition with Sanders in other states.

“We can finally begin to have what I think is one of the most important, substantive conversations that the Democratic Party could have,” Clinton said. “I know that we may have differences of opinion about how best to achieve our goals, but I believe that we have a very clear idea that the Democratic Party and this campaign stands for what is best in America.”

* * *

Clinton started her Iowa campaign by holding a series of small, invitation-only meetings. Those events often included 15 or 20 voters, watched by twice that many members of the media. She credited those sessions with helping her understand Iowans’ thoughts and concerns, but the meetings didn’t put her in front of a broad swath of undecided voters.

“I think she started off fairly weak, relatively speaking. She was not a great candidate,” said David Redlawsk, a Rutgers University political science professor who studies the Iowa process. “Really the key here is Bernie made her better. She responded to the challenge.”

Clinton emphasized her experience, especially on foreign affairs. She rolled out a series of detailed plans, on everything from expanding the economy to fighting terrorism to helping families deal with autism and Alzheimer’s disease. Her rallies grew in size and energy as the caucuses neared, but they rarely drew as many people or sparked as much excitement as Sanders’ events. However, they drew more older Democrats, who had repeatedly caucused in the past.

Redlawsk said Sanders appealed to the relatively liberal Iowa Democratic rank and file. They’re the same people who helped Obama catapult past Clinton in 2008, he said.

“They really want that progressivism. They really want that world change,” he said.

Redlawsk said it was fascinating to see Sanders capture young voters’ affection the way a much younger Obama did eight years ago.

“A guy who’s 74 years old harvested enthusiasm for the future — rather than a return to what people might see as the past, the Clintons yet again.”

Sanders pounded away at his central argument that the political system is rigged in favor of the wealthy and can be fixed only by a president from outside the establishment.

“We will stand up to the powers that be, and we will create a nation that fulfills the dream and the vision that we know our country can be,” he told 1,700 voters in Des Moines Sunday night.

Sanders probably will win the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary, which is next door to his home state of Vermont. Clinton could recover in South Carolina and other Southern states, where she is particularly popular among African-American voters, on Super Tuesday, March 1.

The next event is a one-on-one debate on MSNBC  on Thursday night, moderated by Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd.

3 responses to “Update: Hillary Clinton claims razor-thin win in Iowa

  1. Funny headline.
    HRC won one delegate more that Bernie. Hardly a razor thin win. More like a statistical tie.

    The official tally, for now, is Hillary Clinton at 49.9 percent, and Mr. Sanders at 49.6 percent with 97 percent of precincts reporting early Tuesday morning.

    Hillary’s coronation will be delayed.