After the big screw up with Iowa caucuses the results are now sort of out although may face a recount and we do have the results of New Hampshire primary. While both are swing states which could go either way, they are not exactly representative of US today as both are very white and a lot more rural than the US as a whole is. That being said while one shouldn’t over read the results, they can help build momentum.
If I were an American and eligible to vote in primaries and/or caucuses, my support would be for Amy Klobuchar. While her winning the nomination is a long shot, I believe she is the best person to defeat Donald Trump in a general election. She is moderate, which unlike some, I believe elections are in most cases won and lost by appealing to swing voters not trying to motivate the base (that group hates Trump so much they will show up no matter what). She comes from the Midwest which was the region where the shift from Obama to Trump was greatest and a key region Democrats must make gains in if they wish to win back the White House. She is experienced so unlike Buttigieg, she will be tough to trip up and has shown the ability to get things done. She is also not too old or gaffe prone. Reality is while not a deal breaker, an ideal presidential candidate should fall in the 40-70 age range which unlike most candidates she falls in that range. Finally last but not least, if you look at her Senate results, she was able to win most of the Obama-Trump counties which will be key to winning back the White House. So therefore I believe she is the best choice for Democrat nomination and next president of the United States. That being said Biden, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg are all reasonable but not quite as electable as her while Warren and especially Sanders are too left wing to win in America.
As for what this means, at this point it is tough to say but here are my thoughts on each so far and what I think their chances are against Trump.
Biden: His poor showing in both Iowa and New Hampshire definitely lowers his odds of becoming the nominee. Still his strongest support comes from the African-American community so South Carolina is going to be pivotal for him. He needs to not just win there, but have a strong win to stay in the game otherwise he will fall further behind and many moderates who want to stop Bernie Sanders will go over to other candidates. In a general election, he may poll highest but a lot of that is name recognition. Being moderate and having a blue collar background are all pluses, but I believe his age as well as tendency to be gaffe prone are all issues that could hurt him. Yes Trump is very gaffe prone, but unlike Biden, Trump’s gaffes are intentional where he says what he thinks and a lot of his supporters think as opposed to making stupid statements.
Bloomberg: Not being on the ballot in earlier states is a risky gambit but his strong poll numbers mean if enough moderates fall off, he may still be able to pull off a win on the convention floor, but if he falls too far behind in delegates, it may be tough to catch up. His biggest weakness is being a former Republican and billionaire might turn off a lot of the more left wing elements who dislike both, but at end of day I believe him being moderate will allow him to win over more swing voters. Also most on left hate Trump with such a passion they will vote Democrat no matter what. A small minority may stay home, but every GOP vote picked up has twice the impact of gaining a new voter. That being said one weakness that may hurt him is his strong stance on gun control. While not as fatal as a decade ago; it is electoral college not popular vote that wins elections and that gives rural areas greater clout than population warrants so his stances might be popular in urban and suburban areas, but could make it difficult to win back Obama-Trump rural areas.
Buttigieg: His strong showing in both Iowa and New Hampshire makes him the possible favorite for moderates, but his poor showing amongst non-white voters could hurt him in states to come. Still this may give him some momentum so Nevada and South Carolina will be key to see if his support is largely limited to white voters or if he can start to make inroads amongst African-Americans and Latinos. In a general election he polls poorly although on favorability he is in positive territory as many Americans don’t know a lot about him. His military service, moderation, being from the Midwest as well as being smart all work in his favour. However I think his lack of experience is his big weakness. Governing a city with only around 100,000 people is very different than a country of 330 million people and so worries about him lacking the experience are quite legitimate. Yes Trump had less, but the types who vote Trump don’t care about that whereas Democrats should not assume their voters feel the same way. Some say him being gay may be an issue, but I think unlike a decade ago, it will not be, and those who are homophobic are probably mostly voting GOP anyways. His real weakness is age and lack of experience. That being said he is young enough that I don’t think this is the last we will see of him and wouldn’t be shocked if he becomes president someday and is a future nominee at some future point.
Klobuchar: As mentioned above, she is my choice and I believe she is the most electable of the ones still in the race. Considering how polarized US is; any of the nominees under right condition could win and likewise none of them are guaranteed to defeat Trump. In fact about 90% of Americans are either in the, will vote Democrat no mater what or will vote for Trump no matter what, so it really comes down to about only 10% who are not firmly in one camp. I believe she has a better chance than others of winning those over. As for winning nomination, it is a long shot but her strong showing in New Hampshire gives her momentum, but she will need to continue that in upcoming states to have much chance. Still as a moderate, I believe she has lots of room for growth, but time is running out so if she flops in Nevada and South Carolina, may be tough to win nomination. Like Buttigieg, her weak #’s amongst non-whites could be problematic, but its always possible she will gain momentum after doing better than expected in New Hampshire.
Sanders: He came close to winning Iowa and won New Hampshire, but in both states seen as quite favorable to him, he clearly underperformed. Not only that, his support is heavily skewed towards millennials in college towns and that demographic may be energetic thus why he has big rallies, but can only carry one so far. Still with moderates being divided, he could like Trump continue to win state after state on splits and thus come first in delegates. His main problem is unlike GOP, Democrats don’t use winner take all, they use proportionality so he may come in first in delegates but if he doesn’t win majority that could be problematic. In fact him winning most delegates but not majority is probably worst scenario for Democrats as will create a bitterly divided convention and with party being divided, will have a tough time winning in November no matter what the outcome is. I’ve already blogged elsewhere why I think he is the least electable notwithstanding his polls and I stand by that. Energizing base strategy is quite risky as most on left hate Trump so will vote Democrat no matter what and most non-voters are apathetic and are unlikely to show up under any circumstance. Things like abolishing private health insurance, abolishing ICE, increasing taxes on anyone making over $29,000, free health care for illegals, and doubling size of federal government are not mainstream ideas and a few months of attack ads will turn many moderates off him. He won’t face the same drubbing as Corbyn or McGovern in 1972 for simple reason Trump is a lot more toxic and polarizing than either Boris Johnson or Richard Nixon are/were so some moderates will reluctantly hold their nose and vote for him just to defeat Trump. But even if only 10% of moderates who would otherwise vote Democrat vote for Trump, third party, or stay home, that could be fatal in many key swing states. Not saying argument that he is best choices is totally wrong, I just don’t buy it. But like with anything in politics, I could be wrong as nothing is ever known for sure until it happens. Still choosing Sanders is a very high stakes gamble and with a president as dangerous as Trump not worth the risk. Likewise assuming he does win, he is unlikely to get much passed due to congress blocking it and that will disappoint a lot of his diehard supporters who aren’t accepting of compromises thus ensuring they do stay home in 2024 and the GOP sweeps back to power. Once in power, you need to actually achieve something to get re-elected and that means knowing how to compromise.
Warren: After her poor showing in New Hampshire, I would say her chances are pretty unlikely of winning the nomination. Her only real path is to hope Sanders flops badly in which case she is able to regain status as favorite for progressive wing. Her problem too is she is more your liberal elitist type progressive rather than populist progressive like Sanders is and I believe there is more potential in latter than former. As for general election, like Sanders she would have a tough time winning but for slightly different reasons. Sanders at least has the potential to win over some populists who aren’t ideological but just anti-establishment, while Warren does not. At same time running on promising to reform Capitalism, not a radical overhaul like Sanders probably makes her more palatable to upper middle class suburban college educated whites than Sanders. So in popular vote I think she would do better than Sanders, but in electoral college worse as she would win bigger margins in solid blue states than him, but do worse in key swing states. But either way I think both her and Sanders are the least electable of the field.