Buttigieg slightly leading Sanders in partial Iowa results

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Caucus goers seated in the section for Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg wait to have their first votes counted at the Knapp Center on the Drake University campus in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Democratic Party released partial results of its kickoff presidential caucus after a daylong delay late Tuesday showing former Midwestern mayor Pete Buttigieg with a slight lead over progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the opening contest of the party's 2020 primary season.

The results followed 24 hours of chaos as technical problems marred the complicated caucus process, forcing state officials to apologize and raising questions about Iowa's traditional place atop the presidential primary calendar.

It was too early to call a winner based on the initial results, but Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar were trailing in the tally of State Delegate Equivalents, according to data released for the first time by the Iowa Democratic Party nearly 24 hours after voting concluded.

The results reflected 71% of precincts in the state.

The two early leaders, Buttigieg and Sanders, were separated by 40 years in age, conflicting ideology and more.

Sanders, a 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist, has been a progressive powerhouse for decades, while the 38-year-old Buttigieg's early standing cemented his transformation from a little-known Indiana mayor to a legitimate force in the 2020 contest. Buttigieg is also the first openly gay candidate to earn presidential primary delegates.

“We don’t know all of the numbers, but we know this much: A campaign that started a year ago with four staff members, no name recognition, no money, just a big idea — a campaign that some said should have no business even making this attempt — has taken its place at the front of this race,” Buttigieg, declared, his voice filled with emotion, as he campaigned in next-up New Hampshire with his husband looking on.

Buttigieg's early rise was rivaled for possible importance by the struggle of another moderate, Biden.