Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary

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.

4 thoughts on “Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary

  1. I agree for the most part. It looks to be a race down to 5 and could be down to 4 soon. My opinion on them:

    Biden – Nevada and especially South Carolina are critical. Already, we are seeing signs of the African-American vote moving away. If Klobuchar or Buttigieg can make gains among them, it’s game over. South Carolina is certainly a must-win to take it to Super Tuesday. If he loses in SC, especially to one of those, he should withdraw and endorse them. If he loses to Sanders, but beats the other relative moderates, then the chaos scenario really develops. Still, I think he has to at least finish 2nd in Nevada as well (and beat the other moderates) to have at least a fighting chance.

    Bloomberg – I’m extremely skeptical. I think his biggest weakness is being a former NYC mayor, notwithstanding his positions. That will be a big turnoff even to liberals outside of the big cities and plenty of ammunition for the Trump campaign. The stop and frisk controversy will be killer among the African-American community too. Especially if Biden falters, I think that support will go to Buttigieg or Klobuchar before Bloomberg. His best hope is chaos.

    Buttigieg – He’s in much better position than he was a month ago, and honestly, I think he’s got a pretty good chance. He’s from a red state and completely detached from the establishment, which should help with Sanders voters, while at the same time it might get some of the Obama-Trump vote back who would never go for Bloomberg or Warren. He just needs to really improve his position among the African-American vote and needs to give Biden the KO first. Super Tuesday, IMO, is key for him. He has quite a few winnable states (CA, CO, UT, VA, WA strike me as best for him) that could give him momentum there.

    Klobuchar – She has risen from the dead, but I do think getting around Buttigieg is the challenge. The key for her is if she can get the African-American vote from Biden. The older vote seems ready to go to her next as we saw in New Hampshire. On Super Tuesday, there is some potential, but the best states lie in mid to late March other than her home state.

    Sanders – He may have an early lead, but unlike in 2016, he doesn’t have the highly educated white vote and anti-establishment vote to himself. That’s his big problem right now. Nevada is a tossup, but after a South Carolina annihilation, Super Tuesday has some hope. That said, Buttigieg seems better suited for a lot of the states, while Klobuchar has potential too. He may have a pathway to a plurality, but I can’t see him winning a 1-on-1 battle.

    Warren – Why is she still in the race? She needs to drop out. To finish a distant 4th in a neighbouring state is a sign she’s done. There is no realistic path for her in my opinion. She does the worst against Trump in polls too (most of them showing her being defeated), being so elite-establishment and left of Hillary Clinton. The only person that should be smiling with her going longer is Donald Trump. If she tried to play the long game, she has to wait until late April for anything suitable for her other than her home state. Does she endorse Sanders though, or someone else?

    Nevada probably will be a wash (Sanders winning a tight race, but I’d watch Buttigieg especially in Las Vegas), South Carolina is probably where Biden’s fate is determined, but on Super Tuesday here is my thinking:

    * Alabama – Biden or Klobuchar (if Biden is still in, he should get the African-American vote, otherwise Klobuchar best suited – there are not many white Democrats)
    * Arkansas – Hard to say (not many Democrats to begin with; no real patterns detectable among them)
    * California – Buttigieg (large number of educated liberals including with Hispanics overpower the rest)
    * Colorado – Buttigieg (similar to California, the educated white liberals should run big here)
    * Maine – Sanders or Klobuchar (similar to New Hampshire but older overall)
    * Massachusetts – Warren or Buttigieg (demographics suited for him if Warren drops)
    * Minnesota – Klobuchar by a wide margin (home state)
    * North Carolina – Any of the moderates (mix of white educated Liberals and large African-American vote in the urban areas make it hard to pinpoint)
    * Oklahoma – Buttigieg or Sanders? (not many Democrats to begin with, but the few tend to be concentrated around OKC/Norman and are white educated liberals)
    * Tennessee – Klobuchar or Buttigieg (with few Democrats outside Memphis and Nashville, it would be a race between Memphis being largely African-American and Nashville being largely white educated liberals)
    * Texas – Hard to say (large Hispanic population who don’t have a real face in the race right now; perhaps a tight race)
    * Utah – Buttigieg (Democrats are concentrated around Salt Lake and tend to be mostly educated liberals)
    * Vermont – Sanders in a blowout (he’s incredibly popular still there)
    * Virginia – Any of the moderates (Biden if he’s still in the race; otherwise Buttigieg has big advantage in Northern VA, Klobuchar elsewhere)

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    1. Generally agree with your take and it will be interesting. Also exit polls will be one’s to watch as they give breakdowns. For example in Nevada, is win based on strong Latino vote or more the college educated white vote (which is not that large there) or blue collar white vote. Likewise also county breakdowns somewhat interesting but most counties asides Clark and Washoe County don’t have a lot of people and tend to vote massively Republican anyways so not a lot of votes. South Carolina want to see racial and education breakdown. Charleston county is one to watch as South Carolina 1 was one of the biggest surprise Democrat pick ups in midterms along with Oklahoma 5 as it is 70% white and usually there that means a GOP win, so lots more college educated whites. I think after those two trends will start to become a little clearer. Of the smaller names, I expect asides from those with big egos, they will all be out before Super Tuesday while of the ones mentioned above, I suspect Super Tuesday will knock out a few.

      Bloomberg goes if he wins nothing there, Biden if he performs poorly, especially if he loses any Southern states with large African-American community. Warren goes if she fails to win any state beside her own of Massachusetts. Klobuchar if either Biden or Buttigieg pull well ahead, but if ahead of those two or in a close second will stay on. Same with Buttigieg. Sanders is likely staying until convention no matter what.

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      1. The blue collar white vote I never figured would be that significant, since a lot of that has migrated to the Republicans especially with Trump being extremely popular among them. What will be interesting as well is the 2024 GOP primary.

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        1. Nevada does have a strong union movement, but you are right white blue collar workers have swung heavily to GOP so totally irrelevant in primary, but in general election could put Nevada in danger as Nevada has large Latino population which is good for Democrats, but percentage of population with a college degree is third lowest in country so racial divide between whites and Latinos may grow even larger this Fall for that reason.

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