Pete Buttigieg is leading the Democratic presidential field in the Iowa caucuses, according to initial returns that the party.

There was a massive delay due to technical problems.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is very close behind the former South Bend, Ind., mayor, Pete Buttigieg.

62 percent of precincts have reported in the first batch released by the state party.

“The returns show Buttigieg with 26.9 percent and Sanders with 25.1 percent. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren trailed with 18.3 percent and former Vice President Joe Biden was hovering in fourth with 15.6 percent, just ahead of Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar,” Fox News reports.

“While incomplete, the results could mark a disappointing finish for Biden considering his past status as the unrivaled front-runner,” the report added.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price offered a public apology for the disaster.

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“I apologize deeply for this,” he said at a press conference.

Price said Monday night’s problems were “simply unacceptable” and promised an independent review.

Democrats may have just made matters far worse according to Fox contributor and Townhall editor, Guy Benson:

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He said party officials “hit a stumbling block” on the back end of reporting the data but insisted “this data is accurate.”

He faulted a “coding error” but said the party has a paper trail to back up the results.

Whoever wins in the end is sure to claim momentum heading into the next crucial presidential primary contest in New Hampshire. But any such victory will be clouded by the confusion and general campaign frustration over the meltdown in Iowa over the past 24 hours.

Several top campaigns and their supporters blasted the process and the state party, with the overheated recriminations essentially depriving the eventual victor of the sort of clean, prime-time win that would ideally accompany the first-in-the-nation contest result.

From here, the field hit the trail in New Hampshire ahead of next week’s primary election, where party leaders are already boasting of a much simpler and cleaner process.

New Hampshire “uses paper ballots and has run smoothly for 100 years. We expect a great turnout in the Democratic Primary by Democrats, Independents and those who register on Primary Day. It is a magical week in the Granite State,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley told Fox News.

The Iowa Democratic Party, meanwhile, has scrambled to explain what went wrong and fend off critics eager to challenge the state’s status at the front of the presidential nomination calendar. On Tuesday morning, the party blamed a “coding issue” in its reporting app but stressed that the debacle “did not impact the ability of precinct chairs to report data accurately” and claimed the issue was fixed.

“We have every indication that our systems were secure and there was not a cybersecurity intrusion. In preparation for the caucuses, our systems were tested by independent cybersecurity consultants,” Price said in a statement.

Earlier today, we reported that Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg claimed he has won in Iowa.

Buttigieg, who was consistently in the top-3 in pre-caucus voting, said he is now gearing up towards the New Hampshire primary next week after a victorious result in Iowa.

“So, we don’t know all the results,” Buttigieg said during a rally in Des Moines, as the Washington Examiner reports. “But, we know, by the time it is all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation. Because, by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.”

As the Daily Wire reports, “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King asked Buttigieg on Tuesday morning how he has already made the declaration despite no official announcement from the Iowa Democratic Party.

“We heard you say, ‘We’re going on to New Hampshire victorious.’ But how can you do that when the official results are not in?” King asked. Adding, “Shouldn’t you wait?”

In his response, Buttigieg seemed to say his campaign won strides in Iowa and defied expectations, regardless of the specific outcome.

“Well, we have the results from our organization, and if you look at what we were able to do, what happened last night, the fact that this campaign was able to gather support in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike, in counties that Hillary Clinton won, counties that Donald Trump won, we are thrilled and absolutely consider that a victory,” Buttigieg answered, per the Daily Wire.

Amid the fallout of the Democratic disaster in the Iowa Caucus, it was made known that Buttigieg’s presidential campaign has given tens of thousands of dollars to the technology firm which developed the application that failed in tallying votes.

From the Washington Examiner:

Federal Election Commission filings reveal that Buttigieg’s campaign gave tens of thousands of dollars to Shadow on July 23, 2019, for “software rights and subscriptions.”

Shadow, a technology company that has an investor in the Democratic digital nonprofit organization ACRONYM, was also paid $60,000 over two installments by the Iowa Democratic Party to build an app to help make caucus voting easier and faster for precinct volunteers. Filings also reveal that the Nevada Democratic Party paid Shadow $58,000 for “website development.”

According to another report from the Washington Examiner, the donated money will negatively affect Buttigieg’s campaign regardless of how well he ultimately does in the primary contest.

From the report:

This doesn’t mean Buttigieg rigged the Iowa caucus, as some have suggested. And it doesn’t mean there’s a Democratic conspiracy to block Sanders out, as many of his supporters are arguing. As the Dispatch’s Andrew Egger pointed out last night, every single Iowa caucusgoer heard the results of their caucus before leaving. The results of the individual precincts were then reported online. The only thing that’s unknown is the total sum of these precincts, and that has more to do with the Democratic Party’s incompetence than deceit.

Still, this is an optics disaster for Buttigieg. Given his financial connections to Shadow, he should have waited for the results instead of prematurely claiming victory. Now, he will face scrutiny, even if he does come out on top, and the rift between the centrist and liberal wings of the Democratic Party will deepen.