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In Iowa precinct, coin tosses decide between Sanders and Clinton

Democrats caucus at the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame in Iowa City. Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times

Heads or tails? No, seriously, heads or tails?

A coin toss — that’s what it came down to in one Davenport, Iowa, precinct as a tiebreaker between Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, who battled each other in one of the closest races in state history.

Robert Schlue, 25, a veteran army specialist, was in the school gymnasium where the Democratic caucus was being held when it came down to a deadlock match between Sanders and Clinton.

Schlue captured video footage of the coin toss and posted it on Facebook. Within three hours, it had accumulated 20,000 views.

“I’m not really familiar with the law,” Schlue said. “But in Iowa apparently it comes down to a coin toss.”


According to Schlue, caucus members were split up among three groups, each one representing one candidate. With the first count, Schlue said the results were in favor in Sanders, “95 to something.”

A second shift saw some people switch sides, but also brought to light that a few caucus-goers had apparently not signed in.

With one last realignment (and everyone signed in), the numbers were counted and the 168 votes were split — 84 for Sanders, 84 for Clinton, Schlue said.

In the video of the coin toss, viewers can hear metal hitting the floor and the decision — “No one touch it! Yes!” — the Clinton side exploded into cheers.

“I wouldn’t know what to do in the situation with seven delegates, I didn’t think it would be a coin toss,” said Schlue in a phone interview, adding that he went into the day thinking it was going to be a close race.

Monday was Schlue’s first caucus, an experience he described as “crazy.”

Schlue said the Sanders side of the gymnasium was clearly disappointed and in disbelief, whereas the Clinton side was cheering.


Online, Sanders supporters showed both anger and disappointment at the coin toss.

The Davenport coin toss wasn’t the only one to settle between Sanders and Clinton. A similar situation took place in Ames, Iowa, as well as a precinct in Des Moines, according to The Des Moines Register.

The paper said Clinton won all three coin tosses.

Iowa law mandates if “more than the requisite number of persons, including presidential electors, are found to have an equal and the highest number of votes, the election of one of them shall be determined by lot.”

As of 1:40 a.m., a winner still had not been decided in the Democratic caucuses.

Watch videos of the coin tosses below:

Down to a coin toss in Davenport Iowa, Hayes Elementary School.

Posted by Robert Schlue on Monday, February 1, 2016

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Aimee Ortiz can be reached at aimee.ortiz@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @aimee_ortiz.