Some of Donald Trump’s most militant supporters say the Iowa Caucus was rigged by Microsoft to deny their candidate a victory that was rightfully his.
According to advocates of the #MicrosoftRubioFraud theory, Sen. Marco Rubio’s second-largest donor, the computer giant Microsoft, rigged Monday night’s caucus in favor of a candidate that came in third place, just behind Trump. Microsoft, after all, had created precinct reporting software for both parties in Iowa this year, and the company (including individuals within it) have donated $33,100 to Rubio’s campaign so far.
The app, explained on Microsoft’s blog here, allowed for secure reporting of results from each precinct back to their respective parties on the state level in real time. In short, this technology didn’t replace the ballot, it replaced the phone calls or mailed results from thousands of precincts throughout the state of Iowa back to the Democratic and Republican National Committees.
Basically, if there were a conspiracy involving vote manipulation within the app, the volunteers running some of Iowa’s 1,681 precincts would have to be in on it. Or they would have to have ignored any discrepancies on the real-time results page that is readily available to the public.
So either the conspiracy is so vast that Microsoft infiltrated small Iowa towns and took over their precincts to give a candidate a slightly larger share of third place, or there is no conspiracy at all.
But that hasn’t dissuaded some of Trump’s most visible online supporters from thinking a plot was the most likely scenario. Breitbart.com, a site that has been more than sympathetic to Trump, highlighted Microsoft’s role the day before the caucus, getting the gears turning among the online cheerleaders. Once it was clear that Rubio had exceeded some expectations, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
InfoWars, a popular conspiracy theory site that hawks dietary supplements and whose reputation Trump called “amazing” in December, published a piece on Tuesday pointing to fraud in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses. It specifically cites the link between Microsoft and Rubio as being problematic.
“For one thing, it’s a conflict of interest for Microsoft, a top Marco Rubio donor, to count the caucus votes,” wrote author Kit Daniels. “It was certainly strange how prior to the caucus, Marco Rubio was polling at a distant third, yet the caucus results show Rubio barely behind Trump.”
While questioning the legitimacy of the result, the writer was equally dismissive of the caucus as a whole.
“But ultimately, the Iowa GOP results don’t matter as much as the mainstream media claims because the Iowa caucus was restricted to registered Republicans who toe the party line, whereas Trump has unprecedented support from independents and even many Democrats,” Daniels concluded.
The theory is particularly popular among white supremacists on Twitter, such as the accounts @genophilia and @cuckservative, who list the voter fraud idea alongside other conspiracies that delve into sexual, ethical, and otherwise absurd conspiracies involving Rubio.
The hashtag was also teased last night by Milo Yiannopoulos, a Breitbart editor and apparent Trump admirer, but he later dismissed it as likely nonsense.
“Sounds like bollocks obviously,” he wrote in an email to The Daily Beast. “But hacker types I know who are never wrong totally believe in it.”
The information from the hacker he provided posits that Trump actually won by a landslide but his votes were reassigned to Rubio. It also cites the fact that Iowa has a “history of fraud,” naming the 2012 caucus in which Mitt Romney was declared the winner initially until the final tally determined that Rick Santorum had in fact won. While some of the reasoning in the basis of the argument is sound, the conclusion is seemingly far from legitimate.
Also, according to Yiannopoulos’s source, “pre-election data indicated Trump is liked more amongst urbanites than rural people [but] in the caucus, Trump took predominantly rural counties but lost to Marco Rubio in Trump's core constituency of urbanites.” However, polling indicates that the opposite was true, with Trump’s support centered on blue-collar support from rural areas, and Rubio consistently polling better among urban and suburban Iowans.
Yiannopoulos refused to provide the name of the “hacker” to The Daily Beast.
In any event, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board doesn’t seem interested in investigating whether Microsoft stole Iowa from Trump, and both the company and the Rubio campaign did not return a request for comment.
But if the immediate pickup of the hashtag among Trump’s most ardent supporters is any indication, Rubio’s strong showing has gotten under their skin.