How a High Schooler Scooped Everyone on the Iowa Poll

How a High Schooler Scooped Everyone on the Iowa Poll

For more than 24 hours, the political world eagerly awaited the release of the latest Iowa Poll.

The Des Moines Register, one of the sponsors of the highly respected poll, had announced Thursday that a new edition, which would give a snapshot of the Democratic race in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses on Feb. 3, would be released at 6 p.m. Eastern time the next day.

And then, at 5:39 p.m. on Friday, Arjav Rawal just tweeted it out.

Specifically, he posted a tweet with the new poll’s top four candidates, led by Senator Bernie Sanders at 20 percent, along with the margin of sampling error (plus or minus 3.7 percentage points). When the poll’s results were officially published at 6, Mr. Rawal’s figures matched them precisely.

Who is Mr. Rawal? He is a former volunteer for Representative Eric Swalwell’s now-defunct campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the vice chairman of the California High School Democrats. And Mr. Rawal, 18, is a senior at Dublin High School in the Bay Area.

This was the third straight Iowa Poll, which is also sponsored by CNN and Mediacom, that Mr. Rawal has posted to Twitter minutes before its official release, he said in a phone interview on Friday after his latest coup.

“The Des Moines Register is one of the best papers in the country. I read them regularly. I have no ill will,” he said. “It’s CNN I have a vendetta against.”

His grievance with the cable news network concerns several of its regular contributors, who he feels are unqualified to opine on current events. “They employ morons,” he said.

CNN declined to comment on Friday. The Register did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

How does Mr. Rawal do it? He correctly figures out the URL — the uniform resource locator, or full web address — that a graphic depicting the poll’s results appears at before their official release.

“URL manipulation is what I do,” he said, “and I’ve been able to get really good at it because, with websites like CNN and Fox, all the file names follow a pattern.”

He added, “I’m not going to go into more detail on that.”

He said he had just spoken with The Register’s news director, who expressed interest in his helping the newspaper “keep it under tighter wraps.” He is considering it.

In the meantime, Mr. Rawal said he was engaged in the college admissions process, working with the California High School Democrats to unseat the seven remaining Republicans representing the Golden State in Congress and planning to vote for the first time in California’s primary, for Senator Elizabeth Warren.

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