Well, for a 20 hour wait, the show wasn’t much of a hit. After working all night, and the equivalent of a full business day, the Iowa Democratic party couldn’t even produce a finished product. But with 62% of the vote in, even allowing for Iowa’s insane caucus procedures, some patterns have emerged, and we can see some things.Here’s what I’m seeing from the early numbers.
There appears to be at least some truth in what I wrote in my earlier article today. Steve Kornacki on MSNBC has repeatedly focused on 5 areas in Iowa where Bernie Sanders cleaned up in 2016 against Hilary Clinton. They were all places that have college campuses on them, a Sanders stronghold, and in many, Sanders beat Clinton by double digits. This year Sanders is struggling to get to 46$, and in all cases, Buttigieg is within striking distance. This was not the strength of showing that Sanders needed in those areas, especially since Iowa uses a weighted system to apportion delegates, similar to the electoral college. And that’s killing Sanders in delegates.
Elizabeth Warren did not get the bang for her buck. While 98% of Iowa Democratic voters may have selfies with Warren, only 18% chose her as their candidate. Worse yet, after criss crossing the state, she only narrowly leads in one precinct, and turned out to not be viable in several precincts she thought she’d be strong in. And to cherry the sundae, when it came to the reallocation of caucus voters from non viable candidates from the first round, Warren is getting few second choice crossovers.
Rest your mind, Pete Buttigieg is viable. He is running a close second to Sanders in those college towns, and more important, he is mopping up in the suburbs around cities, important because these are the areas that led the charge in the 2018 blue wave. And just as important, Buttigieg is cleaning up in the rural areas, which is bad news for Biden, because that’s where he concentrated his campaign efforts.
Bernie Sanders has another problem. He seems to be a one trick pony. Either you’re all in for Bernie, or he’s not your cup of tea. In precinct after precinct, Sanders is narrowly winning the initial vote count, but when the caucus goers of non viable candidates realign, it is Buttigieg who is picking up the lions share of second choice votes. This is terrible news for Elizabeth Warren, who really needs those second choice votes to stay close to Sanders.
Iowa sorted out the campaign lanes. Bernie Sanders is sitting at 27% right now, with Warren lagging far behind at 16%.This is where Warren’s inability to win second choice voters is killing her. Buttigieg is at 26%, with Biden at 14% and Klobuchar at 9%. The fact that Buttigieg picked up more second choice voters than anybody else shows that as lower tier candidates drop out, they are likely to gravitate to Buttigieg. Factor in that when you look at Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg and Warren, and Biden is the only one who lost ground in the reallocation of voters, while he may not be dead in the water, he has a hole at the waterline.
The Big Winner – Pete Buttigieg. He is obviously viable as a candidate, and more so in one important respect. Buttigieg was competitive with Sanders in college towns and cities, and even stronger in what are becoming the ever more important suburbs. But he also cleaned up in the rural areas, which is where Biden put in his greatest effort, and where Trump flourished in 2016. If Buttigieg takes this result into a strong 1st or 2nd place finish in New Hampshire, you may see some of his African American problem start to diminish. Commentators keep reminding everybody that black voters are extremely pragmatic. In 2008, Hillary Clinton dominated the black vote, until the early primaries showed black voters that white voters would actually vote for Barack Obama, and they switched over in large groups.
The Biggest Loser – Is a guy who wasn’t even on the ballot in Iowa, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg is on his way to being his own Emmy category for most spending in one campaign. Bloomberg chose to pass on the first four contests and start competing on Super Tuesday. This was a calculation with one master scenario, for Bernie Sanders to dominate Elizabeth Warren and come out as the clear winner in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, while Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar beat each other to death in the mid teens. If that happens, Bloomberg is counting on a total freak out among the establishment Democrats over a potential Sanders candidacy, and with none of the three “moderate progressives” able to break free, the mainstream party would coalesce around Bloomberg as a stopper to Sanders. But if Buttigieg can continue to compete well and pick up early delegates, especially if he can start to pull away and take over the moderate progressive lane, then it is much more likely that the moderate wing of the party will rally around an organic, inspirational, grassroots driven candidate than a billionaire trying to buy the White House.
So,that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. We’ll see what the eventual final numbers show, but I find it hard to believe that it will change the overall layout. Sanders will claim victory for the initial caucus vote title, and Buttigieg will claim victory for snagging the largest number of delegates. And mow it’s on to New Hampshire, where the candidates will try to get the stench of Iowa off of their clothes. We’re off to a rocky start, but at least we have some actual numbers to look at, instead of just polls.
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen