Hillary Clinton is now officially the winner of the Iowa caucuses and Democratic officials in the state will not recount any votes, despite some initial misgivings from Bernie Sanders' campaign about the tallies received Monday night, according to the Associated Press.
The Iowa Democratic Party announced the final tally on Tuesday afternoon, though its results as of Monday evening showed that even with a small percentage of votes outstanding, Sanders had no path to overtake Clinton in the close contest. By Tuesday afternoon, the AP reported that Sanders' campaign, which had considered asking the party to recount its numbers from caucus night, will not challenge the final results.
After declaring the contest a "virtual tie" on Monday evening, Sanders left the state bound for New Hampshire, but he left behind a small cadre of supporters watching the final results roll slowly in on the screens erected around the bar at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines. Long after the crowds, balloons, and Sanders signs had been cleared from the nearby ballroom, unconfirmed allegations of voting fraud began to swirl among the remaining supporters. The rumors stemmed from allegations late Monday night that the Iowa Democratic Party had failed to properly staff 90 precincts, which meant missing votes in areas that accounted for as much as 5 percent of the vote.
The contest Monday night turned into literal coin tosses in some areas to allocate some of the remaining delegates who will be sent to represent the two candidates at the state and, eventually, the national convention.
"We are, right now, calling all our precinct captains [in] precincts where we have knowledge of what's missing, to report what we think happened there," Sanders's state director Robert Becker told Washington, DC, newspaper Roll Call after the caucus night party. "The party has a responsibility to staff 1,681 individual precincts. And what we're seeing right now is that they had no-shows. People not showing up with the materials, not showing up with the app to report it. And when they're telling us an hour ago that they have basically lost 90 precincts, it's an outrage."
The Democratic Party denied reports that a number of precincts were not staffed with caucus chairs and said they had reached out to the campaigns to help get results for outstanding precincts, Roll Call reported.
Early Tuesday before the final results were announced, the Clinton campaign issued a statement saying: "Statistically, there is no outstanding information that could change the results and no way that Senator Sanders can overcome Secretary Clinton's advantage."
By midday, all precinct votes had been counted and Clinton was officially crowned the winner and will earn 23 delegates to the national convention, to Sanders's 21, according to the Associated Press. The results were the "closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history," Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Andy McGuire said in a statement.
After the final count Tuesday, Clinton was awarded 701 state delegate equivalents, while Bernie Sanders has been awarded 697 state delegate equivalents who will face an additional series of state and local caucuses before a select few are chosen to attend the national convention in Philadelphia this summer. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who announced he would be suspending his presidential campaign around 9:30pm Monday night local time as vote tallies were still coming in, was awarded 7.61 state delegate equivalents, while .46 state delegate equivalents remained uncommitted, McGuire added.
Despite the murmurings of fishy business at caucusing halls, Sanders' campaign still counted Clinton's close win in Iowa as a victory for their own campaign, telling supporters in an email that Iowans "sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and to the media establishment."
"If last night proved anything, it's that every single contribution matters and every volunteer shift can swing an election," the Sanders campaign wrote.
Sanders also won 84 percent votes from caucus-goers between the ages of 17 and 29, compared with Clinton's 14 percent, according to entrance polls of Iowans walking in to cast their votes Monday night, confirming the 74-year-old's soaring appeal among millennials. But Clinton lead among voters over the age of 45, who accounted for 64 percent of Democratic caucus-goers on Monday night.
The two candidates — minus O'Malley — will now face off in New Hampshire on February 9. That contest is followed by the Nevada caucus on February 20 and the crucial South Carolina primary a week later. The "first-in-the-South" contest in South Carolina is a bellwether that will establish the preferred presidential nominees in states below the Mason-Dixon line, and success for the candidates in the state will hinge on who can appeal to a strong contingent of African-American voters.
Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields