Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton Won 6 Out of 6 Coin Tosses Last Night. Here’s How Statistically Improbable That Is

The Iowa Democratic caucus vote count was so close last night that at least 6 precincts were decided by flipping a coin — an obscure procedure in the Iowa caucus bylaws. And in all 6 instances, the last remaining county delegate went to Hillary Clinton. Winning 6 coin tosses in a row is extraordinarily rare, and only has a 1.6 percent probability of occurring. As journalist Ben Norton explained, that’s broken down by calculating (1/2)^6, which is 1/64 — or 1.6 percent.
If Bernie Sanders had won half of the coin flips and split the six county delegates three and three with Clinton, he would have finished at 698.49 delegates to Clinton’s 696.57, effectively giving him an Iowa victory. According to a live map of all Iowa precincts, Clinton has a razor-thin 0.3 percent lead over the Vermont U.S. Senator with 99.9 percent of precincts reporting.

David Beard @dabeard
No lie: Coin flip broke tie, gave @HillaryClinton a delegate at pic.twitter.com/PAoKslCJiV via @FernandoPeinado

In addition to the coin flip tiebreakers, one widely discussed controversy was a missing 60 voters in one Iowa precinct which may have flipped the delegate count in Bernie Sanders’ favor:
David Schweingruber, an associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University, explained to the Des Moines Register how a total of 484 eligible caucus attendees were initially recorded at Ames.
Yet when each candidate’s preference group was counted, Clinton had 240 supporters, Sanders had 179, and Martin O’Malley had five and was declared out.
Those figures added up to just 424 participants, leaving 60 apparently missing. The numbers were plugged into a formula that determines delegate allocations, with Clinton receiving four delegates and Sanders three – leaving one delegate unassigned.
A Democratic party hotline was called to advise on how to decide between Clinton and Sanders, and party officials recommended they settle the dispute with a coin toss. A Clinton supporter called “heads” on the quarter flipped in the air, winning her a fifth delegate.
Sanders is calling for a raw vote rather than a county delegate count.


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