Myth-Busting: Coin Tosses Didn't Decide Iowa Race

Besides, Sanders won several of them, too
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2016 9:43 AM CST
Myth-Busting: Coin Tosses Didn't Decide Iowa Race
Hillary Clinton applauds former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords as she speaks at a Clinton event in Hampton, N.H., Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Lots of headlines floating around Tuesday suggested that Hillary Clinton eked out her win in Iowa thanks to coin flips. Not so much, explains NPR. For starters, contrary to initial reports that Clinton had gone a remarkable 6-for-6, it turns out there were several more flips involved, and Sanders won his fair share of them, reports CNN. But the larger issue is that these coin tosses had very little impact on the bottom-line result of Clinton being the winner, say current and former elections officials. That's thanks to the complex formula used in Iowa to pick a winner via delegates: The ones decided by the coin flips were county delegates, who make up just a fraction of the state delegates who decide the outcome.

One former election official tells the Atlantic "with absolute certainty" that the coin tosses didn't mean much in the grand scheme of things—they just drew a lot of attention given how close the race was. The reason for the confusion over the total number of flips? Some county officials used the party smartphone app to report results, and some didn't, reports the Des Moines Register. The app makes clear when a coin toss was involved, and of the seven reported via the app, Sanders won six, including one against Martin O'Malley. Other coin tosses surfaced on social media, including this one that went in Clinton's favor. The toss comes into play only when a caucus vote ends in a tie. NPR goes into the most detail on how the process of "state delegate equivalents" works here. (Read more Iowa stories.)

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