comScore

What’s With All the Iowa Caucus Conspiracy Theories?

A sign of Uncle Sam reading 'Dump Trump' is lit in ominous red.

image: Mario Tama/Getty Images

As if the Iowa caucus wasn’t fraught enough with all the app reporting drama, it’s also been the source of a ton of misinformation campaigns.

Hours before the caucus began Monday, Judicial Watch, a conservative group known for spreading misinformation, declared that there were at least eight counties in Iowa where the number of registered voters exceeded the number of voting-age residents.

Iowa’s secretary of state Paul Pate–who is a Republican–offered up the data to prove that claim was totally false but it didn’t matter. The conspiracy exploded on Twitter and Facebook, with a number of public figures, including Sean Hannity, sharing it. Before the caucus had even started, the lie had already morphed into a larger behemoth. I saw some people on Twitter claiming those eight counties had DOUBLE the number of eligible voters registered which is a hell of a growth spurt, even for a conspiracy theory.

When all of the app drama started, many of those same public figures–people like Donald Trump Jr., Mike Cernovich, and Donald Trump’s digital media director Brad Parscale were on Twitter claiming it was the result of a “rigged” system. Never mind the fact that there was no evidence to back up these claims–it sounded right!

“Proof” of this rigged system came in the form of a rumor that the app, a product of the ominously named tech company Shadow, was created by former staffers on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. This was repeated by people all across the political spectrum, from Charlie Kirk-level conservatives to diehard progressives, despite it being not at all true.

In reality, there are a lot of lessons we need to take away from Iowa. Because some of the choices made there were absolutely terrible ones.

It’s always a good time to re-up this gem:

XKCD comic on voting software

image: xkcd

All of those important lessons, though, are getting buried under a mountain of conspiracy theories, making it all too likely that we will end up having learned exactly nothing.

(via NYT, Mother Jones)
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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.