America was supposed to get a big clue to who the eventual challenger to Donald Trump would be when the Iowa caucuses wrapped up today.
If you are confused about what a caucus is in the first place, head over and read this, then come back.
But instead of getting that clue, the country was left with confusion, anger and no declaration of an official winner.
Here’s what you need to know.
Is there a winner?
The Iowa Democratic Party said there was a “reporting issue” at the caucuses that delayed the official release of results to an unknown time.
“We are validating every piece of data we have against our paper trail. That system is taking longer than expected,” Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price said.
@wpjenna tweet: Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price tells reporters the party will be “eventually able to report results with full confidence.“
That means America went to bed without finding out who had won the first state in the nation to vote in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary campaign.
What went wrong?
Officially all we know is that there was a “reporting issue”.
At least in part, the issue seems to stem from an app that more than 1,600 precincts were supposed to use to report their results. One party official called the situation a “mess”.
When the app didn’t work as intended, the back-up process couldn’t cope with the flood of results coming in.
@tylerpager tweet: The latest on delayed results: One precinct chair just told me he still hasn’t been able to report his results because the phone app is not working and he’s been on hold for the call hotline for more than 30 minutes. More from my story this morning
Importantly though, party officials are confident in the results, and said the problems weren’t because of a hack or intrusion into their systems.
When will we know the winner?
We don’t know for sure.
The latest update said the results would drop within the next 24 hours.
That could be while Australians sleep, or it could be in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Some campaigns have released their own results in lieu of the official ones, but there is no way of telling how complete or accurate they are.
What have the candidates said?
Pretty much every single campaign used the confusion to declare themselves a winner in some form or another.
Two candidates appeared the most confident however — Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders.
@CNNPolitics tweet: Pete Buttigieg speaks amid delay in Iowa: “We don’t know all the results. But we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa, you have shocked the nation.” #cnnelection
“By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious. Tonight, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality,” Mr Buttigieg said to a crowd of supporters.
“I have a strong feeling that at some point the results will be announced, and when those results are announced I have a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa,” Senator Sanders told a gathering of his own voters.
Notably, former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign released a letter condemning what it called “considerable flaws” in the process.
@W7VOA tweet: Letter from @JoeBiden campaign to @iowademocrats .
What does this mean?
In terms of the narrative around this election? It’s huge.
It’s hard to understate how much of a shock this delay is to Americans’ confidence in their electoral system in the wake of Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
This was supposed to be the grand beginning of the biggest contest America’s proud democratic tradition has to offer.
Instead the news is all about doubt, scepticism and blame.
In terms of the practical campaign to become the candidate to beat Donald Trump? Not a lot.
The results will still be announced, and they’re not compromised according to officials.
Iowa offers up a tiny fraction of the delegates required to become the nominee. There are many, many more opportunities for candidates to have a grand election night celebration.
And the next contest is less than a week away in New Hampshire.
Before the sun came up in Iowa, some of the candidates were already on a plane making their way there.