A new batch of Iowa Democratic caucus results released in the early hours of Thursday morning showed Sen. Bernie Sanders almost completely wiping out Pete Buttigieg's narrow lead in state delegate equivalents while extending his popular vote lead over the former South Bend, Indiana mayor to more than 2,500 votes.
With 97% of precincts reporting, Sanders trails Buttigieg by just three state delegate equivalents—550 to 547—or one-tenth of a percentage point. In the popular vote in the final alignment of the caucus, Sanders leads Buttigieg 44,753 to 42,235.
After projecting late Wednesday that Buttigieg would "very likely" emerge victorious from the Iowa debacle, the New York Times drastically changed its prediction following the latest results, giving Sanders a 54% probability of winning the caucus hours after stating such a result was "barely possible."
"We think the race is a toss-up with Bernie favored very narrowly," tweeted Times reporter Nate Cohn.
In a campaign memo to supporters Wednesday, Misty Rebik, Sanders' Iowa state director, wrote that "while the delay to receive the official results from the Iowa Democratic Party is deeply frustrating (trust me, I know), as of now Bernie Sanders is winning the popular vote in Iowa and is tied in projected national pledged delegates."
"We are on the path to victory," added Rebik.
Observers attributed Sanders' late surge to his strength in Iowa's "satellite caucuses," which were held in locations both within and outside the state to accommodate Iowans unable to attend the regularly scheduled caucuses Monday night.
In the wake of the latest totals being released, the trending hashtag #BernieWonIA was be shared widely among Sanders supporters early Thursday morning:
The fact that Bernie is winning the popular vote by over 2,500 in Iowa and that he might also overtake Mayo Pete in delegates due to satellite caucuses is not only an outstanding lesson in organizing, but a fucking poetic end to a chaotic mess. 1/3
— Diana Moreno (@thedianamoreno) February 6, 2020
"This was the first year the party hosted satellite caucuses, and no other campaign seems to have invested serious resources in turning those voters out," The Intercept's Ryan Grim reported late Wednesday, positing that the satellite caucus results "could tip the balance" to Sanders.
As Times reporter Lisa Lerer put it in response to the new results dropped Thursday morning: "The Sanders push to organize these new 'satellite caucuses' is paying off. They pushed for caucuses in mosques, heavily Latino areas, and universities."
what's happening: Sanders's campaign clearly organized satellites. (Some were on campuses; some in mosques; one for Spanish speakers; etc.) Big turnout there for only his team. Few other campaigns had presence there: Buttigieg seems totally absent.
Paying major, major dividends. https://t.co/AUzMgH0RlG
— Taniel (@Taniel) February 6, 2020
In the satellite caucuses so far, Sanders has gotten 75% (IA-4), 69% (IA-3), and 53% (IA-2). The number was lower in IA-2 because of college areas (esp Iowa City) where Warren did very well. IA-1 is the one remaining satellite caucus.
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) February 6, 2020
"We're winning by turning out a multi-racial working class coalition, sending a message to the rest of the country that this is how to defeat Donald Trump," Rebik wrote in her memo Wednesday. "While many overlooked our efforts, we kept our heads down and did the hard work of reaching out to as many new caucus-goers as possible."
"This momentum," added Rebik, "will carry us forward into New Hampshire, Super Tuesday, and eventually, defeating Donald Trump."