The Iowa caucuses involve nearly two thousand little polling stations, each of which hosts a bunch of individuals who sit around and basically groove down in town hall style politics until they take a vote. There are two types of people in this world. Those who think that sounds like a specially designed hell and those whose eyes roll back in their head in ecstasy at the very idea.
Sweet zombie Lincoln, but I love election season.
Funny thing happens in these tiny little individual caucuses, though. They’re so small that there is a real possibility of a tie occurring. Now, this isn’t nearly as fraught with mathematical horror as it sounds. Iowa distributes delegates proportionately. Which means that if two candidates each get half the votes, they each get half the delegates. So the only time a real problem arises is when you end up with a tie in a station that has an odd number of delegates.
Look, you can’t divide an odd number into two unless you want a Solomon buzz saw situation, is what I’m getting at. For example, in Davenport (which is most famous for being where I lived when I was a toddler), the vote was tied 81-81 on the Democratic side with five delegates at stake. So two to Bernie, two to Hillary, but what to do with the last one?
This isn’t baseball where a walk doesn’t count as an at-bat. That delegate has to go to someone. So the rules say to flip a coin. I mean, if we’re going to go for letting the gods and universe settle a matter beyond the ken of mortals, I’m more in favor of trial by combat. I suppose in retrospect, though, a coin flip would have solved that whole problem of Guinevere’s diplomatic immunity at the edge of Lancelot’s sword.
There were a total of six coin flips in Iowa this year, which isn’t an unusually high number. But then Hillary won all six of them.
And the Internet melted.
The chance of winning six straight coin flips is only 1.6 percent, which is about the same probability of you dying of auto-erotic asphyxiation while reading this article. Allegedly.
There are several possible explanations. First, it is possible that everything was on the up and up. And judging by the comment thread in Courtney’s wonderful piece of earlier in the week, that explanation is not going to be accepted by a certain number of individuals.
Second, it could have been rigged by nefarious means, a rotten conspiracy that delves to the very core of our supposed democracy. But come on now, Iowa gave us James Tiberius Kirk, and so clearly has the moral high ground.
Third, it’s possible that the universe itself has a Hillary ‘16 bumper sticker on its Prius. Stranger things have happened. For instance, a 99 million year old spider erection.
Finally, the simplest explanation that is probably the most true: Hillary Clinton is a sorcerer. We already know that Nate Silver is a witch, and Bill Clinton is an erotic warlock, so this seems to be Occam’s choice.
So what then? How can any candidate hope to stand against such preternatural forces? Sanders needs to take the long view, as Hillary’s sorcerous hand has been revealed far too early. Because while Hillary may have won this round with wanton dark magic, the third Democratic primary is in Nevada. And after this sort of suspension of the laws of probability, there’s not the slightest chance that the casino lobby will allow Hillary within the borders of the state.