Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have come down to a photo finish in the Democratic Iowa caucus, with fractions of a percent separating them with 95 percent of precincts reporting.
The virtual tie is a win for Sanders, who once trailed Clinton by 50 points. The Vermont senator, a self-described socialist, has energized young people with his promises of universal health care and free higher education.
Polls ahead of the caucuses had Clinton winning by 5 percent, and early returns looked like those might be prescient. Final results may not be available for a day or two.
Despite still being too close to call, Clinton took the stage at her Iowa headquarters shortly after 11 p.m. with her husband former president Bill Clinton and her daughter Chelsea behind her.
She thanked Sanders for bringing new ideas into the Democratic campaign.
“It is rare that we have the opportunity that we do now to have a real contest of ideas,” Clinton said. “To really think hard about what the Democratic party stands for and what we want the future of our country to look like.”
Clinton tried to show a united front against the Republicans.
“I know that we may have differences of opinion about how best to achieve our goals,” Clinton said. “But I believe we have a clear idea that the Democratic party and this campaign stands for what is best for America. When it is all said and done, we have to be united against the Republican candidates who would drive us apart and divide us.”
Moments after Clinton finished her speech, the Sanders campaign headquarters was filled with cheers as their candidate took the stage.
Sanders thanked his supporters and pointed out how far they’ve come since showing up nine months ago and “taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America.”
Sanders supporters cheered when he announced the virtual tie between him and the presumptive frontrunner.
“While the results are still not complete, it looks like we will have half of the Iowa delegates,” Sanders said to an eruption of applause.
Sanders then finished his speech with what amount to his greatest hits by outlining his programs with the hope of carrying his momentum into next week’s New Hampshire primary.
Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley suspended his campaign last night after coming in at 1 percent of the vote. O’Malley was once thought to be the more viable alternative to Clinton, but the rise of Sanders cut into his candidacy.
A debate, which was just announced on Sunday, will be held between Clinton and Sanders at 9 p.m. Thursday on MSNBC.