Third, each precinct caucus selects delegates to county conventions, based on the results at final alignment. The results are translated into estimates of how many delegates each candidate will earn at the state convention, what’s known as “state delegate equivalents.”
The candidate with the most state delegate equivalents is traditionally the winner of the Iowa caucuses, and in 2020 The New York Times, along with most news media organizations, will again characterize the candidate with the most state delegate equivalents as the winner (though we will be reporting the results for all four measures described here).
It’s harder for there to be a big gap between the result of second alignment and the state delegate equivalency results. But not impossible.
The main way it could happen is because of turnout.