Monday, February 3, 2020

Expect Iowans to "Feel the Bern" Tonight

Because caucuses, unlike primaries, require a substantial time commitment on behalf of participants, candidates who have a core of highly energized, committed supporters tend to do best.  Because of that, I would be shocked if Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders does not come out on top tonight. (A caveat, however.  Because of the way they are tallying votes in Iowa, there may be more than one
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

As someone who studies politics, I am more interested in how the other candidates do.  Will Joe Biden fall to third or maybe even fourth place?   Will Elizabeth Warren finish a strong second, which runnerup status would keep her alive to possibly win New Hampshire?  Can Mayor Pete, who I think is the most talented politician in the field, recover some of the luster that briefly propelled himself to the lead in Iowa and New Hampshire polls?  And what about Minnesota Amy Klobuchar?  Can she have a strong showing in Iowa that will keep her campaign going?

Have I mentioned how ridiculous it is that we put so much meaning on the differences in candidates' totals in the Iowa caucuses that amount to just a few hundred voters?

If Sanders wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, I think Warren's campaign is effectively over.  If Mayor Pete and Klobuchar perform badly in Iowa, they are also on the ropes.  While I think Biden's campaign could survive bad performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, surviving is not the same thing as succeeding.  

I believe when it is all sorted out, there is likely to be one "progressive" candidate (almost certainly Sanders) and one moderate candidate (Biden, Mayor Pete, Klobuchar or former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg) left pursuing the Democratic nomination.   I was originally dismissive of Bloomberg's chances, but I am not anymore.  I think he may have stumbled onto a strategy, the only strategy, that makes him viable for the Democratic nomination.  If it comes down to just Sanders or Bloomberg, my money is on Bloomberg, who Democrats would believe is a much stronger general election candidate.

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