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What Several Media Outlets Are Getting Wrong About 'Coingate'

Author: Dylan Eller
Created: 03 February, 2016
Updated: 16 October, 2022
1 min read

It’s already being called “Coingate,” after Nixon’s infamous re-election scandal. The results of the Iowa Caucus on Monday night were the closest in the state’s Democratic Caucus history, with Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders by .3%. Reports flooded the Internet claiming that this “virtual tie” came down to seven separate coin flips, six of which were won by Clinton. This isn’t exactly a lie, but a twisted, oversimplified truth.

Coins were flipped to settle ties in 7 of Iowa’s 11,065 voting precincts, but these coins were flipped to determine which delegates would participate in Iowa’s county conventions on March 12th. At the county conventions. Here, 1,406 delegates (just under 13% of those 11,065) will be chosen to continue on to participate in the state convention.

Of the state delegates reportedly won by Clinton and Sanders, none of them currently exist, because they have not been determined yet. What were incorrectly shared as numbers of state delegates were numbers predicted by calculating the number of county delegates each candidate won, and assuming those percentages will apply at the state level in June. As NPR reports, Clinton would have to win 47 coin tosses to earn 4 state delegates.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter can be powerful tools for those who know how to use them, but can also spread confusion. It remains important to check reliable sources on misreported stories to prevent spreading incorrect information.

Photo Credit: Frankieleon