Final: Clinton Tops Sanders by Less Than Four Delegates, Challenge Possible

Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at an organizing event at the Iowa City Public Library on Tuesday, July 7, 2015. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — Official numbers from the Iowa Democratic Party released around midday Tuesday gave Clinton the edge in Iowa's caucus.

The final tally was 700.59 state delegate equivalents for Clinton, with her rival Bernie Sanders only 3.77 behind with 696.82.

Earlier in the day, the final precinct, Des Moines 42, was the last to results to state party officials. There Sanders was the winner, but still left Clinton with 49.8% of delegates to Sanders' 49.6%. The Iowa Democratic Party declared it the closest caucus in its history. The party has also not certified the results, as required, leaving the door open for a recount.

A Bernie Sanders campaign staffer told CNN it plans to ask the Iowa Democratic Party for actual count sheets from several precincts, given how close the final results are.

Several precincts decided its delegate by a coin flip after a tie in support. The Des Moines Register reports at least 6 precincts used the coin flip method to determine a county delegate and all 6 went to Clinton. That county delegate count would not be enough to flip the caucus results, which is based on state-level delegate equivalents. That state level count was decided by less than five.

Original Story:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained a lead of less than four-tenths of a percent in the 2016 Iowa Democratic Caucus. The result will likely mean Clinton and Sanders will split the state's delegates to the national convention.

The Iowa Democratic Party released a statement saying the result is the closest caucuses in the party's history. Hillary Clinton has been awarded 699.57 state delegate equivalents, while Bernie Sanders has been awarded 695.49 state delegate equivalents. The party is still waiting for one precinct's results. It's the 42nd precinct in Polk County County, which is worth 2.28 state delegate equivalents. The party will report that final precinct when it confirms those results with the chair.

The heavy favorite to win the nomination even before she announced her candidacy last summer, she faced increasing opposition throughout the fall and winter from Sanders, who appealed to younger and more liberal members of the party.

He made frequent trips to the Hawkeye State, where his message of helping the middle class through a higher minimum wage and free college tuition resonated with younger voters.

Visits to college campuses, including stops at Cornell College and the University of Iowa, drew thousands of enthusiastic supporters.

As recently as a week before the caucuses, polls showed Clinton and Sanders in a statistical tie in Iowa.

Clinton's campaign repeatedly stressed her experience in the Senate and as Secretary of State in her many visits to the Hawkeye State.

Clinton was among the candidates to accept an invitation by Keota High School students to visit campus while on the campaign trail.

Up next for Clinton and Sanders is the New Hampshire primary, the second contest on the road to the presidential nomination.

Voters head to the polls on February 9, where a Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Sanders has a double-digit edge over Clinton.

The pair will continue without opposition from former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, who ended his campaign Monday night after receiving less than one percent support.