Sanders Supporters Advocate Using O’Malley As Spoiler In Iowa

Bernie Sanders' campaign slammed Hillary Clinton's planned use of a political tactic, but his supporters are advocating the same strategy

The three amigos. — REUTERS
Jan 31, 2016 at 11:29 AM ET

Bernie Sanders’ supporters are urging Iowa caucus-goers to back Martin O’Malley as part of a strategy—after Sanders’ camp bashed Hillary Clinton’s campaign for using the same political tactic.

The strategy aims to make O’Malley a “viable” candidate in Iowa precincts where Clinton is set to earn the majority of delegates, thus robbing her of delegates that would help her take the state, and leaving an opening for Sanders to eventually win the most delegates. Clinton’s campaign is trying to do the same thing: rob Sanders of the votes he needs to win in Iowa by making O’Malley a “viable” candidate in certain precincts.

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According to Buzzfeed News, which reported on Clinton’s planned use of the political maneuver at the February 1 Iowa Caucus, Sanders’ Iowa spokesperson called it “sad and telling that (Clinton’s) campaign doesn’t think they can win without these kinds of tactics.” But on January 26, someone on the r/SandersForPresident subreddit posted a guide to caucusing for O’Malley that advocated the same strategy, Vocativ deep web analysts discovered.

The guide, which is based on the complicated math behind caucusing, describes the situations in which it’s most prudent for Sanders fans to caucus for O’Malley. For instance, if Clinton earns over 50 percent of votes in a precinct with three elected delegates, then backing O’Malley—with the minimum 16.66 percent of the vote needed to make him “viable”—would ensure that Clinton would take only one delegate rather than two.

Campaign volunteers showed their clear approval of the strategy. One user, “robotzor,” said the guide should be made into a bite-sized infographic that can be printed on a piece of paper. “This will need to be easy and digestible, and get passed out at caucuses to the entire Bernie regiment,” the user wrote. Another volunteer with the Sanders campaign, “sigmit” from Connecticut, asked: “Why doesn’t this have more upvotes? This is mission critical.”

User “lurklurklurky,” a volunteer with the Sanders campaign from California, shared the guide in a subreddit that targets Iowa voters and explained the tactic. “If O’Malley is not viable, and there are a certain number of delegates at stake, Sanders supporters would better help Sanders by making O’Malley viable to rob Clinton of that delegate,” the user wrote.

But not all Bernie supporters applauded the idea. One volunteer from Michigan said: “It’s disconcerting to me how votes can be traded for favors.”