MANCHESTER, N.H. — Three days after the Iowa caucuses, with 97% of precincts reporting, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., declared a victory in the first-in-the-nation nominating state, though no winner has been officially named.

Speaking at his campaign's New Hampshire headquarters in Manchester, Sanders noted that his campaign was winning the popular initial vote "by some 6,000 votes."

"What I want to do today, three days late, is to thank the people of Iowa for the very strong victory they gave us at the Iowa caucuses on Monday night," Sanders said. "When 6,000 more people come out for you in an election than your nearest opponent, we here in northern New England call that a victory."

It was the first time Sanders had explicitly described the results as a victory for his campaign, with results showing a tight race between him and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. On Monday night, before any results had been released yet, Buttigieg gave a speech saying his campaign was "victorious" heading into the New Hampshire primary.

With 97% of precincts reporting, Buttigieg has a slight edge in state delegate equivalents, 26.2% to 26.1% for Sanders.

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Sanders continues to have the lead in the vote after caucus-goers were able to realign, with 44,753 (26.5%) to 42,235 (25%) for Buttigieg.

Sanders diminished the importance of the state delegate equivalents, saying they were "meaningless" because he and Buttigieg were both likely to receive the same number of national delegates. The state delegate equivalents have traditionally been the metric by which the Iowa winner is determined, and is also what The Associated Press has said it will use to call the race.

"Those national delegates, not the state delegates, are the ones that really matter in the nominating process," Sanders said.

Sanders also blasted the delays that had plagued the Iowa Democratic Party.

"That screw-up 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," he said.

The speech came less than an hour after Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called for a recanvass of the results from the Iowa caucuses.

This article was written by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Amy B. Wang, reporters for The Washington Post.