The Iowa Democratic Party said Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., would claim 563.207 state delegate equivalents, or SDEs, while Sanders (I-Vt.) would claim 563.127.
What had been a difference of 2.774 shrank to 0.08.
The razor-thin margin is likely to intensify the wrangling over the closely watched contest, which descended into chaos when a technology glitch threw off the transmission and verification of results. No numbers were posted until the following afternoon. When figures did start to trickle out, they were riddled with obvious inaccuracies. The Associated Press still has not called the race.
The new figures may not be final, as the Sanders campaign responded to the update by saying it would press ahead with a request for a recount of certain precincts.
A recanvass involves a hand audit of the math worksheets completed by volunteer precinct leaders on caucus night. It differs from a recount, which would entail a hand count of each of the “presidential preference cards” completed by individual caucus-goers.
Sanders, who won the most votes in Iowa, claimed victory in the contest, but so did Buttigieg, who eked out a narrow lead in SDEs. That left Buttigieg with more national delegates, according to the estimates of the state party, which projected that Buttigieg would claim 14 delegates and Sanders would claim 12.
Overall, Iowa accounts for about 1 percent of national delegates. Momentum and bragging rights, however, are another story.
“We now believe a recount will give Sen. Sanders enough State Delegate Equivalents to put him over the top by that metric as well,” Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders, said in a statement. The campaign said it would flag “some 12 precincts” as part of its recount request.
A spokesman for Buttigieg didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Three “Recanvass Administrators” named by the state party reviewed a total of 81 precincts, including three satellite precincts, alternative locations designed for Spanish speakers, night workers and others who have trouble attending a traditional caucus.
There were 1,765 precincts in total. Of them, Sanders queried 28 precincts, while Buttigieg queried 114. Most of the precincts challenged by Buttigieg were satellite caucuses — and the recanvass team disposed of that challenge as a whole, it said, because “the reason for the request was outside of the scope of a recanvass.” It did not elaborate on why.
The recanvass yielded changes in only 29 instances. Modifications were made in most cases because the precinct under scrutiny had misapplied rules outlined in the state’s delegate selection plan. In the other cases, the changes rectified a mismatch between the caucus math worksheet and publicly reported results.
In other cases, the leaders of the recanvass declined to intervene to address even obvious errors, including issues with recording attendance and mistakes calculating “viability,” or the threshold for a candidate to take delegates from a given precinct.
“The administrators deemed that to do so would result in the disenfranchisement of caucusgoers,” the state party wrote in a summary of the recanvass.
Earlier, an attorney for the state party, Shayla McCormally, had advised that the recanvass did not authorize Iowa Democrats to alter the math worksheets because they represented legal documents. In an advisory earlier this month, she warned that interference to rectify arithmetic errors would introduce “personal opinion” into the caucus process, which involves caucus-goers arranging themselves into different groupings and then realigning if certain candidates don’t achieve a baseline level of support.
Representatives from the two campaigns, in addition to the campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), were on-site as the recanvass unfolded on Sunday.
Buttigieg and Sanders now have 24 hours to request a recount. The request must include details about the precincts for review, as well as “credible evidence that indicates the recount could change the national delegate allocation,” according to the state party.
The recanvass was conducted by Staci Appel, Paula Martinez and Melissa Peterson. All are current or former elected officials or advocates in Iowa.