Iowa caucus 2016
February 3, 2016

On Tuesday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert took a look at the drama that unfolded Monday night, and also the Iowa caucuses. He started with the "squeaker" on the Democratic side, noting that the close contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was decided in some precincts by a coin toss (not really). "The Democrats picked the winner last night the same way roommates decide who has to drive to Taco Bell," he joked, suggesting that Clinton's coin-flipping prowess makes her a perfect candidate to be drafted by the Denver Broncos for the Super Bowl. Colbert also suggested that Sanders lost the game of chance because his "trash-talking of money in politics" have turned the coins against him.

With the Republicans, Colbert didn't spend any time poking fun at caucus winner Ted Cruz. Instead, he spent a few minutes joking about Donald Trump's second-place showing, especially his uncharacteristically humble concession speech and the New York welcome he got from his hometown tabloids. Noting that Trump said he might buy a farm in Iowa he loves the state so much, Colbert dug up an amazing clip of Donald singing the theme to Green Acres with Megan Mullally. Marco Rubio, "the clear frontrunner of third place," got some ribbing for declaring victory, and Colbert gave No. 4 finisher Ben Carson some sartorial advice from Bernie Sanders. Watch below. Peter Weber

February 3, 2016

Many Americans — and journalists — were puzzled to learn that Iowa Democrats sometimes award presidential candidates county-level delegates based on a coin toss. The popular narrative that emerged from Monday's caucuses is that luck was with Hillary Clinton, and that her team's winning coin-flip picks swayed the election results. Take, for example, this caucus-night report from MSNBC:

Coin tosses aren't reported in the official tallies, so it's not clear how many county delegates were awarded by heads versus tails. But Iowa Democratic Party spokesman Sam Lau tells The Des Moines Register that seven coin flips were reported statewide, and that Bernie Sanders won six of them. The Register, looking at social media and one first-person report, also identified seven coin tosses at Democratic caucuses, with Clinton winning six. The newspaper has requested an official tally of precinct coin tosses and their outcomes to clear up the confusion.

But regardless, it's unlikely that the coin tosses affected the outcome — the official results are 700.59 state delegate equivalents for Clinton (49.8 percent), 696.82 SDEs for Sanders (49.6 percent). That's because, unlike MSNBC's report, the coin tosses don't decide statewide delegates but county delegates, of which there are about 11,000 across Iowa, versus 1,400 state delegate equivalents. The county-level delegates are used in a formula to determine the SDEs, but each one has only a tiny impact on the SDE count.

"The data we have suggest the game of chance was a rare occurrence and of the data we have, Sanders won the majority of those delegates that were chosen through the game of chance," former Iowa Democratic Party executive director Norm Sterzenbach, a Clinton supporter, tells The Des Moines Register. Coin tosses may seem like an arcane way to resolve ties or delegate disputes, he said, but the party has used them for a long time, including in the 2008 caucuses that propelled Barack Obama to victory. You can read more about the coin tosses, and the chaos at Monday's caucuses, at The Des Moines Register. Peter Weber

February 2, 2016

It could be the greatest decision of a generation — but no, it's not the election of the next president. It's the naming of Kanye West's next album.

If you're going by the numbers alone, it seems a Kanye West album title poll tweeted by Kim Kardashian on Monday was a bigger deal than the Iowa caucuses. Even with a record turnout of 182,000 Republicans caucusing Monday night and 171,000 Democrats turning out to do the same, Kardashian's Twitter poll got 439,102 voters weighing in on what West's next album should be called:

Admittedly, only Iowans could caucus, whereas Kardashian's Twitter poll was open to the world. Nevertheless, it bodes well for West's chances if he makes good on his promise to run for president in 2020. Jeva Lange

February 2, 2016

After Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) came out victorious in Iowa on Monday night, Bloomberg Politics came out with a detailed look at how his campaign made it happen. A lot of it apparently has to do with Chris Wilson, who runs Cruz's polling and analytics. His team looked at the interests of Iowa Republicans at the micro level:

For the closing days of the Iowa campaign, Cruz's campaign had defined such pools for each of his major opponents as part of what was known internally as the Oorlog Project, named by a Cruz data scientist who searched online for "war" translated into different languages and thought the Afrikaner word looked coolest. It was just the latest way that Cruz’s analytics department had tried to slice the Iowa caucus electorate in search of an advantage for its candidate. They had divided voters by faction, self-identified ideology, religious belief, personality type — creating 150 different clusters of Iowa caucus-goers — down to 60 Iowa Republicans its statistical models showed as likely to share Cruz's desire to end a state ban on fireworks sales. [Bloomberg Politics]

In fact, according to Bloomberg, Cruz had no position at all on the state's firework ban until his analysts told him he could potentially sway a few dozen voters by calling for the ban to be lifted. Read more about his campaign's questionably named analytics project here. Julie Kliegman

February 2, 2016

After losing to Sen. Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses on Monday night, second-place finisher Donald Trump could find no respite on his communication medium of choice. Twitter users inevitably dug up a Trump tweet from 2013 which sees the runner-up declaring that people who take second are irrelevant:

By contrast, Trump's concession speech in Iowa took a conciliatory tone, featuring congratulations to Cruz and "all of the incredible candidates." Bonnie Kristian

February 2, 2016

When given the choice between not voting for his boss or asking for a pen, Rick Santorum's precinct chairman chose the former. "You didn't vote for him?" MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes asked, after the precinct chairman showed him a caucus tally with a big 'X' next to Santorum's name. "As I was writing down [his name], my pen ran out of ink," the Santorum chairman said. "I was like, I can't just ask somebody for a new pen while I'm doing this."

"Buddy, you're the Santorum dude," Hayes responded, somewhat incredulous.

"I know, I know," the precinct chairman said. "Failure to launch, failure to launch."

"Failure to launch is exactly what it sounds like," Hayes said.

Santorum ended up with just 1 percent support in Monday night's Iowa caucuses, a far cry from his 2012 victory in the state.

Watch Hayes' full interview with the Santorum precinct chairman below, entitled "Here's why Rick Santorum got zero votes at the GOP caucus we were at tonight." Becca Stanek

February 2, 2016

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) topped Donald Trump in Monday's Iowa caucuses, and he thinks it all goes back to his January attack on the real estate mogul's "New York values."

"As I travel the country here in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, everyone knows what New York values are," Cruz told ABC News after his win. "It's the values of the elite liberals that have done enormous damage to New York and they're a bunch of cops and firemen and hardworking men and women in the great state of New York who are fed up with the out-of-touch values of Manhattan."

But Cruz, in true non-New Yorker fashion, is being careful not to insult the Donald too much.

"I will praise Donald Trump. He's bold, I think he's brash, I'm glad he's running. He's energized a lot of people," Cruz said. "Now, I'm willing to draw differences on policy. Policy is fair game." Julie Kliegman

February 2, 2016

Republican presidential candidate Jim Gilmore didn't get the momentum he was likely hoping for in Monday night's Iowa caucuses. The former Virginia governor only got 12 votes, which wasn't even enough to push him past 0.0 percent in the results. That makes Gilmore the only candidate who didn't at least get 1.0 percent in Iowa and the sole contender who didn't outperform the "other" category, which got 119 votes or 0.1 percent.

Iowa winner Ted Cruz, in comparison, snagged 51,649 votes — more than 4,300 times the number of votes Gilmore got. Becca Stanek

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