Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Thursday declared victory in the Iowa caucus before the final results were published, saying the media are wrong to treat Pete Buttigieg as the winner.
"I think it is fair to say that we won the caucus," the presidential candidate said, claiming a "very significant victory" after being projected to win the popular vote of Monday night's caucus.
A reporter in the audience asked Sanders why he was not waiting for the final votes to be counted, saying the announcement might frustrate some members of the Democratic Party and confuse an already chaotic process.
"Well, I would hope, given the fact that we have waited three days and now there's the talk of another recount, maybe we might want the decisions of the Iowa caucus before the November election," Sanders said. "What is not going to change is that we won a very significant victory in the popular vote. We won a very significant victory in the realignment vote."
"If you ask people, ‘How do you determine who wins an election?'" Sanders continued, "well, from where I come from and where everybody else comes from, the person who gets the most votes wins."
The Vermont senator also said the media were distorting the caucus results.
"You guys have been putting too much emphasis on these SDEs [state delegate equivalents]. There's a confusion that SDEs will determine the number of national delegates. National delegates are important. SDEs do not determine—they determine who the party chair is," he said.
The current count of state delegate equivalents has Buttigieg with a slight lead, while Sanders leads slightly among caucus-goers' final vote preferences.
Earlier in the press conference Sanders denounced the delay in the caucus results, calling it a "screw up" on the part of the Iowa Democratic Party.
"That screw up," Sanders said, "has been extremely unfair to the people of Iowa. It has been unfair to the candidates—all of the candidates—and all of their supporters."