Project Wonderful

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton Won The Iowa Caucus


I would really love to spend the introduction to this post reflecting on how hypocritical it is of Jeff Weaver and his legion of Bernie Bros to spout conspiracy theories about the deck being stacked against them while simultaneously denying the existence of the well-documented historical and institutional misogyny which stacks the deck against Hillary, but I got about 12 seconds of sleep last night and I have to be up at 5am tomorrow so let's dive right in.

Hillary Clinton won the Iowa caucus. Not just by a coin flip, not a virtual tie, she won. Might I add, she is the FIRST WOMAN EVER to do so.

First off, I'd be remiss if I didn't say in terms of the expectations game, both field teams hit it out of the park. Who would have thought 8 months ago (besides me, no one ever listens) that Bernie Sanders would have come within one percentage point of Hillary Clinton? At the same time, in a caucus with unexpectedly high turnout and large volumes of new registrants the fact that Hillary still won pretty much puts that whole "enthusiasm gap" myth to bed. Really great job to everyone. I hope you are enjoying a well-deserved rest before going on to Nevada/South Carolina/some other life entirely.

Now let's address the coin flip thing. Look, I am the first to argue that the Iowa caucuses are far from fair or democratic and a coin flip seems like an arbitrary way to settle things. However, it's actually not uncommon in electoral politics.

Nobody really knows how many coin flips took place last night and who won those flips. Since it is standard procedure to decide the assignment of a contested delegate with a coin flip, caucus captains were not required to record them unless they reported their results via the Iowa Democratic Party's smartphone app. The articles circulating claiming that coin flips occurred in 6 precincts and that all of those were won by Clinton are based on that bastion of reliable reporting, Twitter. Literally people tweeted that the coin flips happened and that Clinton won all of them and "journalists" reported it because of the long tradition of balanced and well-researched election coverage. (And yet somehow the media is skewed against Bernie Sanders?). According to the information that the Iowa Democratic Party did collect, seven coin flips occurred statewide and Sanders won six of them. You can read about that from the Des Moines Register, here.

In addition, even if Clinton had won six out of six coin flips it would not have affected her total number of delegates. That's because the delegates elected at the precinct caucuses are not delegates to the state convention, they are delegates to county conventions. At each county convention delegates are elected to the the state convention and those delegates are the ones who get go to the Democratic National Convention and vote on the nominee and they were the ones being reported last night. The difference of one delegate from a precinct caucus would not have changed the outcome of any of the county conventions, and therefore the state convention, so the report that Clinton won "by a coin flip" even by the furthest stretch is an absolute fallacy (or judging by the sources making this argument, a phallus-y).

True, she won by a razor thin margin and that can have all kinds of implications going forward, but as I wrote this morning, when a baseball team wins by one run, even in extra innings, nobody says they "virtually tied" the World Series. Let's end the sexist cycle of minimizing Hillary's accomplishments and admit she made some history.

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