In recent presidential election cycles, there have been customary
nods to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary not only as
kick-offs to pre-convention political party voting, but also as
credible signals about the outcomes of competitive nomination
Perhaps not this cycle.
The Iowa Democratic caucus came, but went into a political
purgatory of mismanagement, errors and delay in reporting
results, and a controversial conclusion when the final count was
made. Bernie Sanders clearly came out on top in turnout, but Pete
Buttigieg got more delegates, reviving a Sanders campaign
complaint from 2016 that the local Democratic Party establishment
had conspired to rob the Vermont senator of an Iowa victory.
The informal Iowa caucus voting was followed by easier-to-report
counting of paper ballots in the New Hampshire primary a week
later. This count was much quicker and more credible, but almost
as inconclusive as Iowa because this cycle’s Super Tuesday, coming
soon after, is front-loaded with so many states, delegates at stake,
and a new major candidate, Michael Bloomberg, on those ballots.
By skipping Iowa and New Hampshire, and already spending $350
million on his campaign so far, Mr. Bloomberg went a long way to
neutralize these traditional first-in-the-nation states --- and making
a contested Democratic national convention in July more likely.
The results in New Hampshire gave Bernie Sanders his second
straight narrow popular vote win over Pete Buttigieg, but each of
them now heads into several larger states where they might not be
frontrunners. Elizabeth Warren came in fourth in her neighboring
state, and although her poll numbers in recent weeks have fallen,
she has a national base with which to recover. The same is true
for Joe Biden, fifth in New Hampshire and fourth in Iowa, who also
has a loyal base in states ahead. Warren and Biden, however, need
to begin to win some states and accumulate delegates.
Although late polls predicted Amy Klobuchar would come in third
in New Hampshire, she did better than expected. On the other hand,
she did poorer than expected in her neighboring Iowa where she
finished fifth. Her poll numbers in most upcoming states are not
strong. Her home state of Minnesota votes on Super Tuesday, and
she faces serious efforts by Sanders (who won there in 2016) and
Bloomberg. She will need to win Minnesota, and do well in
neighboring Wisconsin to remain viable.
Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet have now dropped out. Deval
Parick is likely out soon. That leaves eight candidates --- and six
major ones, including Sanders, Buttigieg, Biden, Warren, Klobuchar
and Bloomberg. The latter enters the race formally on Super
Tuesday, March 3. He is already a big shadow on the race, spending
that $350 million and registering third in some national polls. Like
Donald Trump he is a billionaire, and not historically a member of
the party he is running in. He is a self-described moderate who
explicitly opposes the ideology of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth
After New Hampshire, the big question marks now are Michael
Bloomberg, whether Joe Biden can recover, and can the Democratic
Party establishment block Bernie Sanders?
Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.