Don’t Overdo the Iowa Analysis
There are probably plenty of surprises to come in the 2016 race.
Feelin’ the Cruz in Iowa.
By Peter FennFeb. 2, 2016, at 2:00 p.m.+ More
The press seems to be “feeling the Bern.” And certainly feelin’ the Cruz.
First, Hillary vs. Bernie.
Be careful not to overdo the results from last night. Young, first-time caucus goers came close to carrying the day over the traditional, older attendees. According to the Des Moines Register poll Hillary Clinton was getting 65 percent of the older demographic (65+) and Bernie Sanders was getting 63 percent of the under 35 voters. Younger voters turned out, but the Clinton organization produced a narrow victory.
The “enthusiasm factor” was certainly important but remember this: Of all voters, 81 percent were still favorable to Clinton, while 82 percent were favorable to Sanders. Thus, Democrats were extremely positive towards both candidates.
But let me address the elephant in the room when it comes to Iowa. And it isn’t just the lack of diversity in the voting population, which many have mentioned. It is the fact that in the last Des Moines Register poll before the caucuses, 68 percent agreed with the following statement: “It would be OK to have a President who describes himself as a democratic socialist.”
Now, somehow I question whether that number – two-thirds of Democratic voters – will hold in many of the other primary states, especially the South and West.
In an earlier Des Moines Register poll this year, 43 percent of Democratic caucus goers identified themselves as socialist and 38 percent as capitalist. Again, such a large number certainly did bode well for Sanders. But despite the high turnout of young people and despite the very liberal bent of the caucus, Clinton still managed to emerge with a win. No small feat.
Will this allow Sanders to raise more and more money? Of course. Will it guarantee that this race will go on for several months? Probably. Will there be a lot more debates between these two candidates? Surely. Does this mean the Democrats are going to resemble a warring faction? Doubt it.
The spring primaries will give the Democrats a real chance to show the difference between a forward looking, progressive agenda that embraces economic fairness, tolerance of all citizens, openness to solving the immigration problem, serious education reform, equal rights and women’s rights – all in contrast to a Republican party that will take America backward.
A Clinton-Sanders contest will be good for the party, good for the general election and good for the country.
And, at the end of the day, Clinton will be nominated because she represents the mainstream of the Democratic party and can win in November and govern in January. Also, as the Gallup poll last year indicated, 50 percent of Americans said that “if their party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be a socialist” they would not vote for him. This is a much higher “no vote” than someone who is gay or lesbian (24 percent), Muslim (38 percent), even an atheist (40 percent).
Socialism, big government and new taxes is not a viable platform despite the appeal of Sanders’ message. Convincing Americans to buy that platform would be like getting them to abandon their cell phones. Bernie would have to talk a lot more about entrepreneurship, innovation, capitalism and investment if he were to stand any chance.
The Republican upset of Donald Trump, meanwhile, proved the value of a superb and sustained statewide organization, plus the importance of motivating very conservative, evangelical, outsider voters. Cruz turned anger into action; Trump didn’t.
The conventional wisdom was that a huge Republican turnout – which is what happened – would benefit Trump. More than 180,000 Republicans turned out; in 2012 the turnout was 121,503. That is a huge jump and, though it was close, Cruz was victorious with 28 percent.
Big rallies, as was the case with the Democrats too, don’t necessarily translate into big victories. And Trump’s temper tantrum with the last Fox News debate was probably a bad move – the spoiled child syndrome doesn’t work too well in politics.
But don’t count Trump out and don’t think that this is going to be a particularly civil affair between Trump and Cruz. One big potential story coming out of the Iowa aftermath is that Cruz precinct captains allegedly announced in a number of the caucuses that Ben Carson was about to drop out and that they should look for another candidate. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, Cruz’s chairman, even tweeted that out on Monday night. Doesn’t sound like a very Christian thing to do to me.
So fasten your seat belt for this donnybrook. We will see what happens in New Hampshire, but Sen. Marco Rubio may be the big winner of the night for the Republicans. If he can emerge soon as the alternative to Trump and Cruz, he may be able to raise the funds and carry on into Super Tuesday and beyond. Remember that there are a host of winner-take-all states starting in mid-March that Rubio could position himself to sweep (Florida, for example) if he is the lone so-called “establishment” candidate to take on Trump and Cruz. In many, he wouldn’t need a majority of the vote and assuming Bush, Christie and Kasich are out after Super Tuesday there is a big, wide opening to fill.
Rubio did much better than the polls predicted and his seizing the national news with his speech before anyone else was a tactical coup. And for some, like poor Jeb Bush, who spent $2,884 per vote in Iowa, this was a night he would love to forget.
On to New Hampshire and beyond, with more surprises I’m sure!