So Clinton and Sanders were in pretty much a dead heat in the Iowa caucuses yesterday, with Clinton edging out Sanders by a few votes. Now I’m watching people freak out over a couple of stupid facts.
A few of the caucuses were settled by flipping a coin. Yes? So? The votes were tied. The rules require representatives to be selected. A coin flip is a fair way to settle which candidate will be represented, when there is a tie. I have no problem with using a chance distribution to decide, but some people are just horrified at this ‘primitive’ way of making a decision. How else do you propose to do it? Trial by combat?
Most annoying are the people who are shocked that there were 6 precincts where there was a tie, and in all 6 the coin flip favored Clinton. Again, that’s to be expected, that occasionally you’ll get a run of consecutive identical results. It would be curious if you never got a run of 6. But now we’ve got all these reporters earnestly explaining trivial outcomes.
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.
This needed explaining? No wonder casinos and lotteries do so well — and no, that’s not an extraordinarily rare frequency.
Maybe this is why so many people have difficulty grasping evolution. Small probabilities with many trials adds up to a significant likelihood.
It is absurd to try and spin this into a ‘win’ for either side.
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.
The race was close enough that it could wobble one way or the other on the basis of a couple of coin flips. As far as I’m concerned, it was a statistical tie, and I don’t care how many ifs you concatenate to shift it into an imaginary win for your favorite candidate.
Also, it was Iowa, and a primary. Who cares? We’ve got two Democratic candidates who are equally appealing to motivated voters in one state. This does not settle the election, and a good case could be made that it is completely irrelevant to the final outcome, which is going to hinge on far more variables.
I swear, watching pundits overanalyze this one result is almost as infuriating as the Republican slate. Stop it.
Jebus. Look at this headline at The Blaze: Hillary Clinton Has The Most Statistically Improbable Coin-Toss Luck Ever. NO IT’S NOT.