Saturday marked the first time Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders swept a full round of caucuses, defeating front-runner Hillary Clinton in all three of the day’s presidential contests. But when the mainstream media was nearly silent on his victory, voters took the electoral process into their own hands. Overnight, a Google document built by a handful of strangers became the go-to source for the caucus results. Its creators were the first to project Sanders’ victory, as the mainstream media waited on stalling, overwhelmed caucus organizers. As organizers in Hawaii scrambled to gather results, Alec Salisbury compiled his own set of stats from his computer in his Ithaca College dorm. With a group of three to 10 strangers, the 20-year-old college student broke the story of Sanders’ landslide victory.
“It’s been a very hectic 15 hours since the caucus results started coming in from WA, HI, and AK,” Salisbury said in a statement after news outlets made their final projections. “I was ecstatic to see how incredibly close our projections came to the official results. It was amazing interacting and collaborating with like-minded voters from all across the country.”
The Associated Press gave the first official projection by 10 p.m. HST/4 a.m. — at least three hours later than planned — and declared what people following the spreadsheets already knew. The AP’s data showed Sanders crushing Clinton, 70.6% to 29.3%. The Google document? It showed Sanders at 69.7% and Clinton at 30.3%.