This year’s presidential election officially kicked off with the Iowa caucuses last week. The democratic field is now down to just Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton, who split the state’s delegates right down the middle in the closest Iowa primary of the last 40 years.
In at least seven precincts the final decision of who the delegates would support was made by coin toss, and Clinton cleaned up by random chance, solidifying her lead only the slightest bit beyond Sander’s reach. The final results give 23 national delegates for Clinton and 21 to Sanders, while the differences in votes was less than a percent, the effect of the results on their campaigns far outweighs it.
Party leaders have stated these coin tosses ultimately didn’t affect the outcome, but that didn’t stop Sander’s campaign from reinvestigating the night’s results themselves. In fact, organization of the process has been criticized on both ends, and for worse grievances than suspicious coin flips. That Monday night the party was in full gear attempting to consolidate all their results so as to report the winner that night. After being disorganized and unprepared for the caucuses, discrepancies between paper numbers and those reported by an app used to track decisions at the caucuses sparked demands for recounts and investigation which received a stern “no” from the state’s Democratic Party leader and open Clinton supporter, Dr. Andy McGuire.
Due to the wafer-thin margin of just three-tenths a percent between Sanders and Clinton a recount should have been required anyways, and would have been in other states. Despite much hellraising by his own supporters, at the democratic debate on Feb. 4 Sanders said calmly “This is not the biggest deal in the world. We think, by the way, based on talking with our precinct captains, we may have at least two more delegates.”
Surprises abound in the republican primary as well, despite a promising lead in most polls throughout the nation leading up to the vote, Donald Trump lost in Iowa by an impressive margin, 3.3 percent, to Ted Cruz.
This is not a particularly shocking result in a state known for its disproportionately evangelical and conservative constituency. Though the party defined by its grandeur and age is clamoring for a nonthreatening and solidly establishment Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, in a state with a style of primary which strongly favored Cruz—caucuses are well known for leaning conservative—it was enough for the party elites to have Rubio rank third in Iowa. In the coming weeks, as Bush drops off polls and primaries, it is likely that the establishment will look past Rubio’s abysmal record as senator in order to circumvent the disaster that would be a Trump or Cruz nomination.
Honestly, even if Trump was a governor, or had experience in politics prior to this election cycle, the chances of him being taken seriously when it comes down to the wire are slim. His behavior isn’t becoming of a leader, and despite the fun of imagining a mad man at the helm of the world’s most powerful nation, the GOP is far too reserved to risk their run against the Democrats with such a dividing candidate.
Certainly failure in Iowa is not indicative of the final election results, but as the first state to have their opinion noted they set the tone for the following months. After losing Iowa in 2008, winning this cycle was most necessary for Clinton, but proclaiming the results as a “victory” the day after was premature and reflects only on her desperate situation running against a man of the people.