Saturday, February 1, 2020


The 2020 presidential race, and especially the Democratic
nomination contest, is about to enter an important new stage
when some actual preferences of voters are counted in primaries
and caucuses.

Until now the process has been organizational, promotional  and
speculative with the Democratic field initially stuffed with 28
candidates of various former and current political officials,
including a vice president, governors, senators, members of
Congress, mayors --- as well as two self-funding businessmen.

The 28 initial aspirants are now reduced to 11, with two frontrunners,
two reasonably close to the frontrunners, two hoping for a breakout
moment, and two billionaires spending unprecedented sums with
unconventional strategies.

The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary
are imminent. They have often been important in the past,  but are
less likely to be so in this cycle following a Super Tuesday when so
many states and delegates have been front-loaded into the process.

Iowa might be less about determining the winner and more about
who withdraws next. Pete Buttigieg needs to revive a sagging effort,
and Amy Klobuchar (from neighboring Minnesota) has to show new
strength in her own region. Polling in Iowa is very inexact because
of the nature of the caucus, but 4-5 candidates seem able to win
delegates, and there might be multiple claims of victory. Unless
there is a surprise result, Iowa could be inconclusive.

New Hampshire is eight days later. Again, it more likely will
produce more losers then winners. Elizabeth Warren is from
neighboring Massachusetts (as is Deval Patrick). If Bernie
Sanders from next-door Vermont does well in Iowa, he will need
to do so in New Hampshire as well.

Joe Biden will need to do well on Super Tuesday and in South
Carolina where he has had a large polling lead. Michael Bloomberg
has taken a pass on Iowa and New Hampshire, and bet his political
megafarm on Super Tuesday. He is spending enormous sums, and
seems to be getting some results in new polling. He could be the
wild card of 2020.

The impeachment trial had sidelined the four senators running
for president, but after Iowa and New Hampshire the full field will
be on the campaign trail, and impeachment controversies will no
longer dominate media coverage and distract the Democratic race.

There are announced opponents of President Trump for the
Republican nomination, but if he is acquitted in his impeachment
trial, there is no serious contest. Whether or not the unsuccessful
Democratic impeachment effort produces their desired impact of
hurting the president’s re-election --- or backfires to help him ---
will be a major factor in this cycle, but this lies ahead.

Iowa and New Hampshire might signal that no Democrat will
clinch his or her nomination before the party’s Milwaukee national
convention in late July.

There are a great many maybes and ifs ahead in this election cycle,
but it has now begun in earnest, and there is no going back for
either party to try to do it differently.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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