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Archive for January, 2016

It appears Iowa Democrats are thinking, “Say what you will about Bernie Sanders – at least he’s honest.”. The same cannot be said of the national front runner. I think this will matter next Tuesday – Iowa Democrats appear more concerned with both liberal ideology AND ‘good government’ than most. Honesty matters a bit more in Iowa than it does to Dems in some other quarters of the country (parts of the Northeast in particular).

At this point, it appears Sanders is going to win Iowa; the only question now is by how much. He is then likely to win his neighboring state of New Hampshire (which temporarily saved Secretary Clinton in 2008). Both of these results were highly unlikely six months ago. It’s not that Senator Sanders is that great a candidate. It’s that Secretary Clinton is notably weak and the problem isn’t something she can fix. It’s not organization; it’s not messaging. It’s her – her cozy relationship to Wall Street [which isn’t very popular in Middle America these days] her history of dissembling (which even allies attempt to minimize rather than defend), her obsessive secrecy and sense of victimhood, and the idea that the rules that apply to other people don’t apply to her and her husband. People left, right and center all have issues with her. It is remarkable – and remarkably sad – that no other significant establishment Democrat took her on in the primary.

In the book Game Change, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann relate Mrs. Clinton’s reaction to her upset loss in Iowa: “Maybe they just don’t like me.” I think she got it. And as the book relayed, the dislike was mutual. She doesn’t enjoy being there. She’s one of those dangerous bureaucrats – she likes policy a lot; people not so much. The dirty little secret is Sanders is actually somewhat similar that way. The one Democratic candidate who has actually run a state (albeit not well) and appears to actually be a people person, Governor O’Malley, can’t seem to get any traction. Unlike the GOP, the Democrats have a two-tier voting system in Iowa. Whom O’Malley’s people prefer between Sanders and Clinton will matter. It might be the difference between a solid Sanders win and a rout.

– 1TF

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Well, we’re one week out from the Iowa Caucuses. On the Republican side, Donald Trump leads Ted Cruz with only Marco Rubio also above 10%. It remains to be seen whether the Trump voters will actually come out and vote. I suspect Cruz’s voters are a bit more committed.

In the end, however, Iowa will settle little for the Republicans, other than to show how unlike the Iowa GOP is to much of the country. These folks put fundamentalist gadfly Pat Robertson ahead of George H.W. Bush in ’88. They helped the similarly unelectable Michelle Bachmann chase the only plausible Republican general election candidate, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, out of the primary race in 2011. On the other hand, they also sent the socially liberal Jim Leach to Congress for three decades.  This a state where ethanol is a third rail issue; that’s just not a big issue in most of the country. (That’s not to say energy independence isn’t a big issue, but corn’s role in that is not.).  The Iowa GOP is just a distinctive animal.  I don’t think the caucus settles much. New Hampshire is likely to be more consequential.

In the great Trump-Cruz battle for the nomination, my money is still on “none of the above”.  Expect the winner of the “establishment primary” in New Hampshire (that is, the Bush/Christie/Fiorina/Kasich/Rubio contest to finish 2nd behind Trump) to become a serious contender. If that person can consolidate the support of the others (and that of Gov. Huckabee who is unlikely to support either Trump or Cruz) coming out of NH, that person will then have a strong shot at the nomination.

-1TF

 

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