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Politics & Policy

Iowa Democrats: Hillary Won! … We Think. … Maybe…. If Our Math Was Right.

Today’s Morning Jolt notes that for the second cycle in a row, there are questions about whether the announced winner in an Iowa caucus actually got the most votes:

Iowa Democrats: Hillary Won! … We Think. … Maybe…. If Our Math Was Right.

Oh, come on, Iowa. You’ve got forty-nine other states envying your prime spot in picking presidential candidates, and now this again?

 It’s Iowa’s nightmare scenario revisited: An extraordinarily close count in the Iowa caucuses — and reports of chaos in precincts and computer glitches — are raising questions about accuracy of the count and winner.

This time it’s the Democrats, not the Republicans.

Even as Hillary Clinton trumpeted her Iowa win in New Hampshire on Tuesday, aides for Bernie Sanders said the eyelash-thin margin raised questions and called for a review. The chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party rejected that notion, saying the results are final.

The situation echoes the events on the Republican side in the 2012 caucuses, when one winner (Mitt Romney, by eight votes) was named on caucus night, but a closer examination of the paperwork that reflected the head counts showed someone else pulled in more votes (Rick Santorum, by 34 votes). But some precincts were still missing entirely.

Bernie Sanders and his supporters may have struck you as the kind of people who would instinctively blame any loss on cheating, a conspiracy, or shenanigans. But for now, they’re not alleging a conspiracy, just mistakes:

Sanders campaign aides told the Register they’ve found some discrepancies between tallies at the precinct level and numbers that were reported to the state party. The Iowa Democratic Party determines its winner based not on a head count, like in the Republican caucuses, but on state delegate equivalents, tied to a math formula. And there was enough confusion, and untrained volunteers on Monday night, that errors may have been made.

“We feel like that there’s a very, very good chance that there is,” said Rania Batrice, a Sanders spokeswoman. “It’s not that we think anybody did anything intentionally, but human error happens.”

This is one of the most obsessively-covered events in American politics – how are there still giant unresolved questions about what happened caucus night?

In an unknown number of Iowa Democratic caucus precincts Monday, a county delegate was awarded after the flip of a coin.

Why is the number unknown? Because officials who reported county delegate totals without using the party’s smartphone app weren’t required to signify if the win was the result of a coin toss, said Sam Lau, a spokesman for the Iowa Democratic Party.

Lau said seven coin flips were reported statewide, and Bernie Sanders won six of them.

The Des Moines Register has identified six coin flips through social media and one in an interview with a caucus participant. Of those seven, Clinton was the apparent winner of six. It’s unknown if there is any overlap between the coin flips identified by the Register and the coin flips the state party confirmed.

Does anyone else find it bizarre – and perhaps a wee bit suspicious – that Democrats don’t release vote totals?

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