Pete Buttigieg takes the lead in Iowa caucus

Pete Buttigieg is currently leading in the first nationwide state-by-state contest to choose the Democratic candidate, who will face off against US President Donal Trump in November's election

Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg is currently in the lead in the first vote to choose the Democratic candidate who will run against President Donald Trump in the November elections.

The vote in Iowa has been categorised as chaotic, besieged by technical problems and delays in reporting results.

Iowa's Democratic Party said data from 71% of precincts showed Buttigieg on 26.8%, with Bernie Sanders on 25.2%. The two lead candidates are expected to take 10 delegates each.

Elizabeth Warren was third on 18.4% and Joe Biden fourth on 15.4%.

But the state party has still not declared a winner from Monday's vote. Democrats have blamed the delay on a coding error with an app being used for the first time to report the votes.

The race is still very long and this first victory of sorts can mean asbolutely nothing in the long run but it has helped to give the son of a Maltese immigrant visibility. 

Buttigieg, 38, is the first openly gay candidate for US president. He was the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana city of just over 100,000 people.

Buttigieg is a Harvard and Oxford University Rhodes scholar, who served as a military intelligence officer in Afghanistan and used to work for global management consultancy McKinsey.

Iowa was the first contest in a string of nationwide state-by-state votes, known as primaries and caucuses, that will culminate in the choosing of a democratic nominee at the party convention in Milwaukee Wisconsin in July.

In the popular vote count, partial results showed Sanders leading with 32,673 ballots, while Buttigieg was second at 31,353.

However, Buttigieg came top in certain rural areas with smaller populations, and so far has more delegates.

Warren was third with 25,692, followed by Biden at 16,447 and Klobuchar at 15,470.

Commenting on the technical faults, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price said at a news conference that the “fiasco” had been “simply unacceptable.”

"I apologise deeply for this," he added of the turmoil, which has provoked calls for Iowa to lose its coveted spot atop the presidential voting calendar.

"This was a coding error," he said while insisting the data was secure and promising a thorough review.

State party officials earlier said the problem was not the result of "a hack or an intrusion".

New Hampshire will be the next primary battleground on 11 February, followed by Nevada on 22 February.