Finally, Here Comes Iowa

Finally, Here Comes Iowa


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It appears that there is a growing sense that for the Democratic Party to win the presidency in November it must focus its attention on only one goal: defeating Donald Trump. At the same time, it is hardly apparent whether this growing consensus makes any difference to the voters prepared to caucus in Iowa tomorrow or to vote next Tuesday in New Hampshire.

For many of the Iowa voters, it appears–according to many of the polls—that their major concern is the candidate whom they prefer and not who can win in November. This is not to suggest that Iowa Democrats are not committed to defeating Trump, but they appear to be focused on which candidate they prefer, and not exclusively which candidate has the best chance to beat Trump. What is also interesting about the polls is that while turnout in Iowa is expected to be huge, caucus goers’ choices still appear to much more fluid than would expected at this time.

The turnout expectation reflects their interest and concern, but their lack of a final commitment is enlightening.  Iowans feel the power of their first in the nation voting as do those in New Hampshire. In fact, there are predictions that the turnout at the New Hampshire voting booths, like Iowa also will be very large.

The major remaining five candidates competing in Iowa and New Hampshire (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders and Warren)–plus Bloomberg– represent the likely group from amongst whom will be chosen the nominee.   They all know that historically no candidate has emerged to take the Democratic presidential nomination without winning either or both Iowa and New Hampshire; or at least coming in second. The overweighting importance of these two first states—even excluding South Carolina, Nevada, and Super Tuesday—continues to be very problematic. So deep runs the tradition and the pressure that these States place on the Party faithful, that all efforts to change the system have failed. This year due to the front loading of Super Tuesday to March 3—three weeks after New Hampshire—only someone with money and victories will be able to really compete in the sixteen contests to be decided on March 3.

As far as substance is concerned, the Sanders and Warren camps have solidly captured any voters who are placing their progressive preference ahead of “who can beat Trump.” While stranger things have happened, the reported current Sanders lead in Iowa and very strong position in New Hampshire put Biden in the position where he must come in at least second in one of the first two contests. It places Klobuchar and Buttigieg chasing a miracle.

This situation sets up Bloomberg with his out of the mold strategy to attempt to only begin his campaign for delegates on Super Tuesday. Given as well that Bloomberg has all the money he needs, Bloomberg can make a run for a big delegate grab on March 3. Even more unusual, last week the Democratic National Committee, anticipating a possible need for a strong moderate candidate should Biden flounder, decided to modify the campaign rules to allow Bloomberg on the stage for the February 19 debate.

The week of February 2 should be momentous for Americans in numerous ways. President Trump will most likely be acquitted of the impeachment charge on Wednesday. This will occur in the wake of Trump’s Tuesday night State of the Union Address which undoubtedly will be his opportunity to publicly denounce his political detractors in person, should he so desire. Because of the Super Bowl the nation stopped all its campaign activities. Underlying all of these events will be the Iowa Caucus on Monday which will most likely last much later into the night than even the Super Bowl or even the Oscars next Sunday.





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