As the Iowa Democratic Party worked through Wednesday to clarify the outcome of Monday night’s botched caucuses, a top campaign surrogate for former Vice President Joe Biden declined to say whether his campaign believes the data reported so far is accurate.
Partial results released Tuesday afternoon showed former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the lead, with Biden in fourth place despite having enjoyed a long stint as the Democratic front-runner.
Speaking to CNN’s Brianna Keilar, Biden adviser Symone Sanders hammered the party for its string of failures while refusing to say whether she believes the numbers that have been reported.
“I guess we’ll have to take the Iowa Democratic Party at their word,” she said toward the end of the interview ― the closest she came to voicing support for the data.
While a series of disastrous technical problems has prevented the party from releasing the full results of the caucus, there is no evidence to suggest the results are flawed. Party officials expressed confidence on Tuesday that the data had not been subject to hacking or manipulation.
They pinned the delay on a “coding error” in an app that was supposed to be used to document results. A phone line that officials could call with questions about the app was also backlogged on Monday, fueling the confusion.
When asked point-blank whether she thought the data was correct, Sanders replied that she had “not analyzed the back ends of the data.”
“What we are saying and what we have implored to the Iowa Democratic Party are two things: One, we have to make sure we get it right. Getting it right means checking, checking again and triple-checking. Making sure that there is a paper trail,” Sanders said. “Don’t try to paint this as we’re trying to say this is some kind of conspiracy theory, OK?”
She wasn’t the only Biden campaign official questioning the results of Iowa’s caucus. Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, told CNN on Tuesday morning that the campaign has “real concerns about the integrity of the process” and that the party’s mistakes “should raise concerns for voters.”
After Buttigieg, the limited information released so far shows Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in second place and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in third, according to the number of state delegate equivalents won by each candidate. By another metric ― the popular vote ― the preliminary results show Sanders in the lead.
The disappointing results for Biden have led the candidate to go on the attack on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, where he questioned Sanders’ commitment to socialism and pointed out Buttigieg’s relative inexperience.
The Biden campaign has written a letter to the Iowa Democratic Party demanding “an opportunity to respond” to the results before they are made public, and calling for a full explanation of what happened to be delivered to each campaign.