After almost a month of problems and delays, the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) finally certified the results of the Iowa Caucus on Saturday, declaring Pete Buttigieg the winner and awarding him an extra delegate for winning the most state delegate equivalents (SDEs).
On Sunday, Buttigieg dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.
Speaking to supporters in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg said, “After a year of going everywhere, meeting everyone, defying every expectation, seeking every vote, the truth is that the path has narrowed to a close for our candidacy if not for our cause.”
That cause, he explained, is creating a “broad and inclusive politics” that will “heal a divided nation” and enact “a broad based agenda that can truly deliver for the American people, not one that gets lost in ideology.”
He added, “So I urge everyone who supported me to continue in the cause of ensuring that we bring change to the White House and working to win the absolutely critical down-ballot races playing out across the country this year.”
Buttigieg did mention Iowa in his speech, but not the fact that it took weeks to certify the results, or that his campaign — along with the Sanders campaign — asked for both a recanvass and a recount of precinct results since Feb. 3.
“But by every conventional wisdom, by every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all,” he said. “And then, as I said that roller coaster February night a few weeks ago when Iowa shocked the nation, along that way, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality.”
Buttigieg received endorsements from a number of local leaders, including Rep. Dave Loebsack, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague, Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers, Coralville Mayor Mitch Gross and Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart.
According to the results certified by the IDP State Central Committee on Saturday, Buttigieg earned 0.04 percentage points more SDEs than second-place finisher Sen. Bernie Sanders, which resulted in the former South Bend mayor getting 14 of the 41 delegates Iowa is sending to Democratic National Convention. Sanders, who had the most supporters in the final alignment of the caucus — 2,443 more than Buttigieg — received 12 national delegates.
The partial recanvass and recount requested by the Sanders and Buttigieg campaigns did cause the party to adjust some of the precinct-level results prior to their Saturday vote, but those changes did not affect the national delegate allotment. The recanvass and recount did not answer all of the outstanding questions about the caucus result, and following the recount, the Associated Press confirmed it would not designate a winner in Iowa due to “remaining concerns about whether the results as reported by the party are fully accurate.”
Following his strong showing in Iowa’s Feb. 3 caucus, Buttigieg went on to finish a very close second in New Hampshire’s Feb. 11 primary. But as the race moved on to states with younger and more diverse populations, he was not as competitive.
In Nevada, Buttigieg finished a distant third, with 14.3 percent of the vote. He did worse in South Carolina, finishing in fourth place with just 8.2 percent of the vote. The candidate who finished in third place on Saturday — billionaire Tom Steyer — dropped out of the race that night.
Buttigieg did not discuss in his speech any plans for the future beyond helping Democrats win in the November election. He also didn’t endorse any other presidential candidate. But the New York Times reported Buttigieg spoke on the phone with “Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama on Sunday night, according to a Democratic official familiar with the conversations. Mr. Biden asked for Mr. Buttigieg’s support and the former mayor indicated he would consider the request. Mr. Buttigieg wants to sleep on the decision, he told aides, some of whom believe he should move quickly to endorse Mr. Biden.”
According to the Times, Obama did not ask Buttigieg to endorse Biden, but did encourage the former mayor to make a decision soon because he “has considerable leverage at the moment.”