Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Quick Post on the Iowa Caucuses And Bernie Sanders

While I haven't posted much, if anything about the 2016 election, I have been following the race somewhat, and I have a few thoughts regarding the state of 2016 Primaries.

1) Bernie Sanders Isn't Barack Obama

In 2008, Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucus despite heavy competition from both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards (back before we knew he was a creep). Now, this was a big deal because the one question going into the election was whether or not Obama would be able to appeal to white voters as much as he could appeal to nonwhite voters. With the win in Iowa, he proved that he could win over whites.

And this is key because the Democratic Party is made up of college-educated white voters, blue collar union voters, women, and nonwhite* voters (this group grows each and every day because of the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Republican primary). What made Obama so formidable, and he was formidable in 2008, was his strong support from college-educated white voters and nonwhite voters. Hillary Clinton dominated union voters and women. Ultimately, Obama's coalition was just slightly larger than Hillary Clinton's, and that's why he won.

Sanders, in contrast, doesn't have the pull with nonwhite voters that Obama has/had. In part, that's due to Sanders being a white guy from Vermont, and in part that's due to his flat-footed reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement. Clinton, meanwhile, is getting a lot of support from Obama, and that's helping her with nonwhite voters. As the primary progresses, Clinton's connection with nonwhite voters will help her.

2) Hillary Clinton Has Her Act Together

One of the key takeaways from the 2008 campaign wasn't just Obama's formidability, but it was also how much smarter of a campaigner he was compared to Clinton. Clinton hired poorly (*cough*Mark Penn*cough) and was caught unaware by Obama's caucus strategy. By Super Tuesday, he had the nomination all but wrapped up. This go around, Clinton seems to have her act together. There aren't any stories about staff insurrections, and for what it's worth, she did win Iowa.

Now, with that said, Clinton is going to have a tough race. She is inherently a technocrat - a better office-holder than office-seeker - and that's going to cost her. What's more, Sanders is attacking her on her left flank (which is what he should be doing) and doing some damage. When she wins the nomination, and she will almost certainly win the nomination, Clinton will almost certainly have to pick a VP from the left wing of the Democratic Party. We want this.

3) The GOP is a Mess

Trump may have come in second in Iowa (which, all things considered, isn't surprising that Trump didn't play well in Iowa), but his stamp on the 2016 Primary is clear. Rubio and Bush tried to moderate on immigration, and had to change their tune. If Trump falters in New Hampshire, maybe he'll drop out, but who steps in his place as the nominee? Cruz is too much of an asshole, Rubio is damaged on immigration, Kascich and Christie aren't going anywhere and Jeb! is pathetic.

That said, I suspect that we'll have a good idea who the nominee will be once we get through the South Carolina primary. Until then, there are simply too many variables.

*By nonwhite voters, I am referring to African Americans, Latinos, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and every other ethnic group outside of Europe. While each ethnic group has different issues and concerns, they all vote Democratic by large margins. Given the explicitly racist tone of the Trump campaign, I don't see this changing in 2016.