*This post has been updated.
After months and months of polling and campaigning and more polling, the 2016 race was put in the hands of voters for the first time Monday as Iowa held its caucuses — and on the Democratic side, the result was a photo finish. Upstart Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont pulled off what months ago seemed impossible, a near upset, or as he described it, “a virtual tie.” The race was so close, in fact, six Iowa precincts were deadlocked and had to be decided by coin tosses. Clinton won all six coin flips, a remarkable stroke of good luck. Here’s a video of her winning when a coin is flipped up in the air, and lands on tails.
— Fernando Peinado (@FernandoPeinado) February 2, 2016
Insiders said the uncomfortably close outcome was concerning to the Clintons, who had thought they’d regained momentum in Hawkeye State in the days leading up to the vote. In her post-caucus speech, joined on stage by Bill and Chelsea, she said, “As I stand here tonight breathing a big sigh of relief — thank you, Iowa!” She was careful to not declare victory in the contest, though, by Tuesday morning her campaign was claiming a narrow victory as Clinton held 49.9 percent of the vote to Sanders’s 49.6 percent.
Sanders claimed the near upset as a moral victory. His supporters chanted “feel the Bern,” and he responded by railing against politics as usual. “I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment,” Sanders told the crowd. “That is, given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics.”
The virtual tie results in Clinton taking 23 of the 44 delegates at stake in the contest on the way to the 2,382 needed to clinch the nomination. Sanders walks away with 21 delegates. New Hampshire is up next, on February 9, and recent polling has shown Sanders with a significant lead there.
On Monday afternoon, after votes from all of the precincts were tabulated, Clinton was declared the winner of the Iowa Caucuses, according to The Associated Press, a result being called the closest in the Iowa Caucus history. With the victory, Clinton becomes the first woman to ever win the Iowa Caucuses. As ABC News reporter Juju Chang noted in a post on Twitter, the odds of winning six coin tosses in a row — Clinton’s key to victory — are 64 to 1.