Daily WTF: The Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Iowa Caucus

On Monday, the people and Democratic delegates of Iowa met and decided who they would endorse to be the Democratic candidate for President. Despite the fact that Hillary was slated to win months ago, the race ended up very, very close with Hillary garnering a slim 49.9% support to Bernie’s 49.6%. They were also fairly evenly divided on state and county delegates with Hillary winning 22 and Bernie 21 state delegates and the county delegates only a few seats different.

Technically, this is a win for Hillary. It is also the first time any woman has won the Iowa caucus. That being said, it’s also a win for Bernie. As he said in his stump speech, nine months ago he had no supporters, no money, and no name recognition, and now he’s going toe-to-toe with the face of the Democratic Party. This narrow defeat will add even more momentum to his campaign, swaying both voters and delegates who were unsure about Bernie’s staying power or ability to be electable. Basically, shit got real.

However, people aren’t necessarily paying attention to Hillary’s victory or Bernie’s impressive showing. Rather, they’re wasting time on conspiracy theories and flat-out lies that paint Hillary and her campaign as an evil, conniving corporate monster hell-bent on voter suppression and only capable of winning the caucus by coin flip.

So here are the facts:

  1. Hillary Clinton did not win the caucus by a coin flip. Coin flips are occasionally used to determine county delegate seats when the raw votes cannot evenly translate into delegates. That being said, these county delegates don’t have much impact on the state delegates, who are the ones who will actually determine the Democratic nomination. Finally, though the information about the coin flips is fuzzy, most reports agree that Hillary did not win every single coin flip. In fact, some reports say that Bernie won most of the coin flips. Honestly, it’s a mess, and these precincts need better reporting in the future. But suffice it to say, Hillary did not win because of a coin flip.
  2. Hillary is not cheating to win the caucus and has not cheated in the past. Anecdotally, people are saying there were miscounts in some of the precincts, lost votes, and that Hillary’s campaign has prevented people from casting their votes. There is no evidence of this. At best, we can look at news stories in 2008 that show that her campaign tried to prevent en masse gathering of Obama-endorsing Unions from going to the same voting location. However, her campaign did this legally through lawyers and lawsuits that didn’t even always go through. She and her campaign are tough, but there’s no evidence that they cheat and suppress voters.

I get that some people don’t like Hillary. I don’t think they have to. I don’t even think they have to vote for her. I also get that people find her abrasive and judge her for using legal tactics to try to get her way – things like staffing events with her own people, filing lawsuits to even out the votes, and accepting corporate donations to fund her campaign. All of that is fine, but slandering her and flat-out lying isn’t. It damages her reputation and her political career and unfairly biases people against her. It’s also a waste of time.

If Bernie is electable and the best person for the job, his supporters should mirror his campaign – by sticking to the issues and his record. And while they’re at it, they should understand that he is not going to win every state, every delegate, or every vote. There will just be people who don’t want to vote for him, and that’s not a conspiracy theory or a betrayal – it’s a fact.

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