Could Bernie Sanders have actually won the California primary?
After Tuesday’s contest went to Hillary Clinton, reports began circulating that Bernie Sanders may have actually won the state due to a huge number of yet-to-be-counted votes that would go in his favor. California still has close to 2.5 million ballots that were not counted on Tuesday night, when Clinton was declared the winner with a close to 12-point lead.
The story of Sanders’ unlikely win came from the Justice Gazette, which claimed that information from polling places confirmed that Sanders was actually the winner, not Hillary Clinton.
“In view of the information from polling place workers about Sanders winning by more than a 2 to 1 margin and in view of the removal of 2/3 or more of his votes from the official results, the Justice Gazette declares Bernie Sanders the landslide winner of the 2016 California Primary Election,” the report noted.
The report that Bernie Sanders won in California went viral, with many shares on Facebook and Twitter. But there was no truth to the report, the fact-checking site PolitiFact found.
The site noted that Clinton’s lead remained at about 450,000 votes, even growing slightly as the state continued to count mail-in ballots. Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, told PolitiFact that there is a chance Clinton’s lead could be shaved to single-digits by the time all votes are counted, but she is in no danger of losing. He added that there is no way to know what percentage of the uncounted ballots would go to Bernie Sanders.
The Washington Post explored the reports that Bernie Sanders may have won in California, specifically addressing rumors that there may have been election fraud benefiting Hillary Clinton. There has been a common refrain among a conspiracy-minded set of Bernie Sanders supporters that there has been election fraud in a number of states in which he lost.
In Arizona, this group pointed to a sudden slash in polling places that led to very long lines as a sign of fraud benefiting Clinton. In New York, a purge of more than 100,000 voters in Brooklyn was allegedly proof of fraud against Sanders. For all contests, the group pointed to discrepancies in exit polling as a sign of what they saw was massive fraud.
Bernie Sanders vows to fight on at California rally – video https://t.co/qBfbqKfrvf— The Guardian (@guardian) June 7, 2016
In every case, there was an explanation that did not involve election fraud. Arizona’s voting woes were the cause of the state’s Republican-run legislature, New York’s voter purge was found to be a bureaucratic error (that actually hurt Hillary Clinton, once the correct affidavit ballots were counted), and the exit polling is actually a misunderstanding of the use of exit polls in the United States. In other countries, exit polls are used as a check against election results, but in the United States they are a media-run tool meant mostly to glean voter demographic information, with a wide margin of error.
The Washington Post took on both the conspiracy theories regarding Tuesday’s contest and the idea that Bernie Sanders may have actually won in California.
“Thanks in part to Sanders’s constant commentary about the process being rigged and his simultaneous disparagement of the ‘corporate media,’ anecdotes about difficulties at polling places or glitches in vote results have reached near-legendary status as evidence of how The Establishment is rigging the game. As usual, that was alleged in California.
“Clinton could have spotted Sanders 20 percentage points in the state and still won the pledged delegate majority by a wide margin. Believing that she risked her candidacy on committing a felony to ensure a 10-point win — instead of a 1-point win! — is bananas.”
The Washington Post report concluded the same thing that PolitiFact did — that there was no election fraud, no voter suppression, and no dirty tricks. Bernie Sanders did not win in California for one simple reason — voters simply preferred Hillary Clinton.
[Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images]