Both Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders have claimed victory in the caucuses — Buttigieg, because he holds a razor-thin lead in the delegate count; Sanders, because he has received the most total support overall. But the chaos and inconsistencies in the reporting of the results have raised widespread doubts and prompted sharp criticism of the process by candidates and party leaders, and the field has largely shifted its focus to the next primary state, New Hampshire.
Bernie Sanders, a 78-year-old self-described democratic socialist, has been a progressive powerhouse for decades. Buttigieg, a 38-year-old former municipal official, represents the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party. Pete Buttigieg is also the first openly gay candidate to earn presidential primary delegates.
No votes have been cast in the Democratic presidential nominating contest, but the winnowing has begun. A distinct top tier of candidates is breaking away from the pack in early polling and fundraising, building distance between themselves and the rest of the bloated field. Although the first nominating contest in Iowa is still more than six months away, tighter qualifying standards for the fall debates and cash flow problems have prompted questions about how many campaigns will still be operational next year. Five candidates have pulled away from the pack: former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Biden has consistently led early polls, with the four others jostling for position behind him. Most other candidates have struggled to even hit 2% in recent surveys. Money has also flowed disproportionally to the top five candidates. Buttigieg, who led the field in second quarter fundraising with $24.8 million, raised more than a quartet of senators — Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Bennet — combined. “There’s a field of likelies, unlikelies and possibles,” said Sue Dvorsky, the former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party. Even as the primary field cleaves into haves and have nots, big questions remain about what direction the party will take as voters weigh who best, and how best, to defeat President Donald Trump next year. The top tier includes moderates and liberals; the oldest contender in