IOWA – The delay in results from the Iowa Democratic caucuses Monday night is due to "inconsistencies in the reporting" of the three sets of results being used, the state Democratic Party said.
"We found inconsistencies in the reporting of three sets of results," said Iowa Democratic Party Communications Director Mandy McClure in a statement. "In addition to the tech systems being used to tabulate results, we are also using photos of results and a paper trail to validate that all results match and ensure that we have confidence and accuracy in the numbers we report. This is simply a reporting issue, the app did not go down and this is not a hack or an intrusion. The underlying data and paper trail is sound and will simply take time to further report the results."
The logjam threatens to rob the eventual winner of the caucuses, the first in a nationwide string of nominating contests to find a Democratic candidate to take on President Donald Trump, of some of the early media bounce from their victory.
"It's clear that something has gone wrong," a representative from one of the campaigns told CNN's Jeff Zeleny.
More than three hours after the caucuses started, official results have yet to start rolling in, with party officials saying they are working to ensure the accuracy of returns from meetings in more than 1,600 precincts.
Officials from two Democratic campaigns tell CNN they were told the app to tabulate results had crashed. They said they had not been given any other information.
A state Democratic official who was in the party's war room a short time ago said the mood was calm and the officials were committed to do what was necessary to get the results correct -- which contain more details this cycle than in previous caucuses.
"More data takes more time," the official said.
Some Democratic presidential campaigns have started to worry about the delay in reporting results. An aide to a top Democratic campaign said their operation doesn't "know what's going on" but "something is clearly up."
"It just eats time," the aide said.
A Democratic aide attending an event at Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar's Iowa headquarters told CNN's Jasmine Wright that "something is up, but we don't know what it is." The aide said they have been pinging the Iowa Democratic Party, asking for answers.
Earlier, CNN entrance polls showed that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren were the early leaders among 11 candidates. Since voters can change their preferences inside the caucuses if their favorite candidates do not reach a minimum threshold, this data is preliminary and will likely change.
In the absence of official results, campaign managers were reading the tea leaves from information sent in by field staff to try to assess how they were performing. Two senior aides to the Buttigieg campaign, for instance, said that they were performing more strongly than expected, according to their internal tallies.
"Things look pretty good so far," one aide said.
Other campaigns were also contacting organizers in rural areas to try to get an early picture of how their candidates fared and how their efforts during months of campaigning are paying off.
A crucial first night
The first night of presidential balloting since Trump's shock White House triumph in November 2016 could spring its own surprises and is seen as too close to predict, especially given the size of the field.
In a quirky exercise of in-person democracy, caucusgoers in more than 1,600 precincts are gathering in groups to show support for their favored candidates at the beginning of the caucuses, which could last a couple of hours.
Supporters of White House hopefuls who don't meet a threshold of 15% in any given precinct have the chance to recommit to "viable" candidates or go home -- and are facing a hard sell by pleading friends, neighbors and business contacts backing other candidates to join them before officials create final tallies.
Delegates are awarded proportionally and Iowa accounts for 41 of the 1,991 pledged delegates needed to capture the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July.
Turnout will be closely watched on Monday night for clues about the morale of Democratic voters ahead of what is likely to be a fierce battle with Trump. The record to beat is the 240,000 caucusgoers who showed up in 2008, when Barack Obama made a huge first step toward the party nomination.
Iowa's notoriously frigid weather was kind on Monday and appeared to boost attendance. Temperatures were hovering around freezing in Des Moines when the caucuses opened.
Republicans are also hosting caucuses on Monday night in Iowa. There is little real competition -- CNN is projecting Trump will win the state.
Caucuses to offer first clues about 2020 election
The caucuses across the Midwestern state will begin to answer the questions that will drive the Democratic race — including whether the party is about to take a sharp left turn or is poised for a more pragmatic choice of a moderate who might appeal to middle America.
Tuesday's voting could also expose the split between liberals promising sweeping political change like Sanders and his rival for the left's heart, Warren, and the more incremental plans on issues like health care, the economy and college debt pushed by centrists like Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
Democratic voters could choose to put their faith in one of the 70-somethings in the race, like Biden, Warren and Sanders, or to make a break with a new generation represented by Buttigieg, who has historic potential as possibly America's first president who identifies as gay and has just turned 38 years old.
Huge night for Biden
The Iowa race will take center stage after being largely overshadowed by the raucous Trump presidency, and the impeachment drama that is just wrapping up in Washington and kept the senators running for the Democratic nod off the trail at the climax of the Hawkeye State campaign.
It will test whether Trump's attacks on Biden have harmed perceptions of his electability among Democratic voters. The impeachment drama embroiled the former vice president since Trump leaned on Ukraine to dig up dirt on a rival who has long been seen as the national Democratic front-runner.
The former Delaware senator has long styled himself, after a near half century in top level politics, as the best positioned Democrat to beat Trump -- and to restore what he says is the nation's fractured values and equilibrium.
But after never making it past Iowa in two failed presidential runs, Biden needs a strong showing on Monday night in a largely white state that does not set up for him as well as more diverse states like South Carolina and the Super Tuesday states in early March.
Biden has predicted the Iowa race is a toss-up but also said he would make it until the end of the Democratic nominating tussle no matter what happens Monday.
"We're going to survive all the way through this whole thing," he told reporters in South Des Moines.
Sanders seeks to go one better than 2016
Sanders rushed back to the Hawkeye State on Monday night after attending closing arguments in the Trump impeachment trial in the Senate earlier in the day. After narrowly losing the caucuses in a near dead heat to Hillary Clinton four years ago, the Vermonter is banking on his fired-up supporters to push him over the line.
"It's not just our agenda, as strong and powerful as that agenda is -- it is grassroots movement," he said during a final day of rallies on Sunday.
A win from Sanders, given that he's also well positioned in next week's New Hampshire primary in a tight race with Warren would make a massive statement of intent and significantly hike the pressure on Biden.
It might also alarm centrist Democrats who fear their party is doomed to a certain defeat by Trump if it adopts a self-described democratic socialist as its standard bearer in November.
The Warren machine
Many Iowa veterans believe Warren built the best organizing network in the state, which could help her recapture momentum that faded after a spurt over the summer. The Massachusetts senator has positioned herself between Sanders and the moderate crop of candidates, promising an overhaul of an economy that she says is weighted toward the wealthy.
Four years after Clinton fell just short of shattering the highest glass ceiling and failed to become the first female president, Warren is also shouldering the hopes of many Democratic women.
"Right now across America in competitive races, women are outperforming men. So here's how I see this -- our No. 1 job is to beat Donald Trump. Women win," Warren said at her final Iowa town hall.
Buttigieg, a veteran of the Navy Reserve who deployed to Afghanistan, is presenting himself as the pragmatic alternative to Biden and subtly arguing that the former vice president's time has come and gone.
He's not doing much to play down expectations, acknowledging that it is vital for him to make a strong stand in his first tilt at national politics.
"I'm going to let other people do the math on the numbers and the percentages, but let's face it, we need a very strong finish here in Iowa, because this is our chance to show versus tell," Buttigieg told reporters Sunday.
'We left it all on the field'
Another candidate who may not survive a disappointing performance in Iowa is Klobuchar, who has tried to parlay folksy Midwestern moderation into a spot in the top tier of the Democratic nominating race.
"We've left it all on the field," an aide to the senator told CNN's Kyung Lah on Monday, adding, "I think we'll surprise people."
Other candidates taking a first run in the national presidential spotlight include entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who has wooed many young voters, and businessman Tom Steyer, who has spent tens of millions of dollars of his own cash to try to force himself into the race to take on Trump.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has splashed $300 million on his own run, is sitting out the first four races and hoping for an opening further down the road.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.