Under Iowa’s arcane Democratic caucusing rules, ties can be broken by the toss of a coin, leaving the designation of some delegates up to physics. On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton won at least three delegates by coin toss. Which delegates? Delegates to what? Where? No one knows!
One of those coin tosses was in precinct 2-4, in Ames. David Schweingruber, an associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University, relayed what happened to the Des Moines Register:
A total of 484 eligible caucus attendees were initially recorded at the site. But when each candidate’s preference group was counted, Clinton had 240 supporters, Sanders had 179 and Martin O’Malley had five (causing him to be declared non-viable).
Those figures add up to just 424 participants, leaving 60 apparently missing. When those numbers were plugged into the formula that determines delegate allocations, Clinton received four delegates and Sanders received three—leaving one delegate unassigned.
A Clinton supporter called the coin toss correctly, and the former secretary of state took the unassigned delegate. Similar situations were reported in at least two other precincts, and Clinton won the toss in each case—an outcome that had a 12.5 percent chance of happening.
Is this significant? “I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there about what exactly is being decided with a coin flip,” Register reporter Jason Noble tweeted. “The statewide delegates ARE NOT the same delegates that are decided with a coin flip. “The coin flips are deciding single delegates at precincts where as many as 8 delegates are awarded. The statewide delegates are different.” Haha, okay!!!
Of course, the overall result was a statistical tie, and Clinton and Sanders will end up with similar numbers of delegates. (We’ll likely never know the “true” result, based on how many people support each candidate.) But for the “narrative” it matters who was declared “victor.”
So—did three coin flips win Iowa for Hillary Clinton? Probably not, lol. Regardless, Sanders supporters will no doubt have a lot to say tomorrow morning about introducing chance into the democratic process!
Update – 1:33 am
Make that six coin tosses!