Post-New Hampshire: State of the Race, pt. 10

Photo (ABOVE): Jackson Lanier / Wikimedia Commons

Post-New Hampshire: State of the Race, pt. 10

Written by Ben Szioli

I was going to write a post-Iowa update, but the Iowa results still haven’t been certified, so here is a post-New Hampshire update instead.

Preliminarily, it seems Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (IN) split the national delegates in Iowa, with Sanders earning slightly more raw votes. Senator Liz Warren (MA) had a disappointing showing but still earned delegates. Former Vice President Joe Biden (DE), as I speculated last week, saw his name recognition turn back into an onion once it came time to get real voters to caucus. He came in fourth place, just behind Senator Warren. Senator Amy Klobuchar seems to have picked up a delegate, as well.

As most people already well know, the caucus reporting process was a nightmare, with late result reporting and many mathematical errors. As a result, basically, no one won Iowa. The Associated Press and New York Times both have declined to declare a winner. The Buttigieg and Sanders campaigns have both requested that the results be “recanvassed,” which refers to a process of correcting the addition of the results.

New Hampshire, therefore, was the first real election result of the primary, marking another step in the Iowa caucuses’ declining relevance. Senator Sanders won New Hampshire with 25.7% of the vote as of the time I’m writing this. Former Mayor Buttigieg was close behind in second place with 24.4%. They tied in national delegates, with nine each. The only other delegate-earner was Senator Klobuchar, who earned six delegates and 19.8% of the vote. Warren and Biden were in the basement at 9.2% and 8.4% respectively, and no other candidate broke 5%.

BERNIE’S PATH TO VICTORY

If Sanders doesn’t win the nomination clear-and-away, then he has to take his support into a contested Democratic National Convention. In that case, if 51% of the delegates can consolidate against him, then he could be rejected by what some have termed a “delegate coup.” Buttigieg and Klobuchar delegates, one would think, would be pretty hostile to Sanders.

The best solution for Sanders, it would seem, would be to rack up so many statewide victories that the idea of nominating anyone but him would be ridiculous. Polls show him ahead in Nevada and closing in on Biden in South Carolina. Success with minority voters and a deeply divided opposition could propel Bernie to a lead in state victories after Super Tuesday. A commanding popular vote lead and state victory lead would make his nomination at a contested convention incredibly likely.

Furthering that likelihood is the fact that his supporters will turn out for the DNC in Milwaukee, in droves. Remember those “badass motherfuckers” Bill Maher mentioned? Yeah, them.

The media has already begun to lay out narratives to oppose that kind of “in the streets” action. Chuck Todd read a quote on MSNBC that referred to Sanders supporters as fascist “brownshirts.” This line of innuendo would prove useful for establishment figures if protests should break out in Milwaukee. There’s no honest comparison between Sanders supporters and the street-fighting Rotfront that engaged the Nazis early in their history. But the idea has been planted that they are similar. However, Sanders supporters can take heart that the seed seems to have fallen on rocky ground.

PECKING ORDER

I’ve just been ordering my candidates in order of their polling averages. With real results coming in, that is making less and less sense. I’ve decided to continue ordering by polling average until after Super Tuesday, at which point I will re-order the candidates based on their delegate count.

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DEMOCRATS

Senator Bernie Sanders (VT): Sanders has risen into first place in the polls. FiveThirtyEight, at least for now, predicts that a Sanders victory, outright, is the most likely scenario. However, all’s not exactly well for Bernie right now. His frontrunner status could be shortlived.

While Sanders can claim victory in New Hampshire, he’s still (likely) tied with Buttigieg in national delegates, and Sanders barely won NH, anyway. He underperformed his polling average slightly, not enough to provoke panic. What’s worrisome for Sanders is the degree to which his opposition has consolidated against him. He nearly matched predictions, but Buttigieg and Klobuchar outpaced all expectations.

● ● ●

Former Vice President Joe Biden (DE): After a miserable showing in Iowa, coming in fourth with just six national delegates, Biden went into free-fall. He plummeted past Sanders into second place nationally by the day before New Hampshire voted, and he was kept off the board in New Hampshire completely.

Biden has already begun to downplay the importance of Nevada and South Carolina, looking to Super Tuesday for a chance to “sort it all out”. Polls in Nevada show him losing to Sanders, and Biden’s 20 point polling lead in South Carolina has already been chopped in half. He is absolutely Jeb!ing. I called it.

● ● ●

Senator Liz Warren (MA): Warren has continued to slide, down now to 13% in the national polls, allowing Billionaire Mike Bloomberg to pass her. Her no-show in New Hampshire will only worsen the decline. Super Tuesday, and Massachusetts, is where she will face her fate. A loss there would end her campaign.

In other news, Warren gave a fiery post-New Hampshire speech, doubling down in a way on her criticism of Sanders over the “he-said-she-said” issue. The “girl power” issue. Her support of Klobuchar was backhanded, directed at those who “count” women out. And jeez, who do we know that Warren thinks of that way?

I really don’t get Warren’s strategy here, since it will fatally wound her chances at the nomination if she pivots to Klobuchar supporters over Bernie supporters. What it could do is help Klobuchar win and get Warren onto the ticket as her running mate.

This is typical of Warren, who always goes on the offensive when threatened. She moves to the next level. When Scott Brown pushed her during her Senate race, she tacked left and appealed to the people. When she fell out of the presidential race in 2016, she aimed for a higher office with a Clinton endorsement that in my opinion likely cost Sanders the chance to win. When Trump attacked her for her lies about Native American heritage, she upped the ante and ran for president. Now, finally, with her presidential campaign falling apart again, she seems ready to endorse against Bernie once again. Some progressive, huh? As I said, Liz ain’t it.

● ● ●

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg (NY): Bloomberg has slid in to tie Warren for third place. His ad campaigns are going totally unchallenged, and he has yet to appear in a debate, so he’s looking pretty good. I’m not sure why polling respondents don’t seem to care that he is doing so poorly in the early voting states, though. Do they not know? I don’t see how he could be viable to real life voters on Super Tuesday if he isn’t viable to early state voters; same as Biden.

I heard some really awful audio that went around this week of a talk Bloomberg gave in 2015 at an unfilmed Aspen Institute event. In the audio, Bloomberg can be heard defending stop-and-frisk policies in New York City under his watch. His utterly casual attitude is disturbing. Sociopathic, even. He just calmly explains how you have to do racist policing, and yes, people will call it racist, and you just have to ignore them.

And in particular, the quote “you’ve got to get the guns out of the hands of the people that are getting killed” will not play well with the 2nd Amendment crowd. These people already see Bloomberg as representative of a “nanny state” government that parents its populace against the populace’s will. There is a dustbin of failed candidates who ran big gun control platforms, and Bloomberg could be headed there.

● ● ●

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (IN): Buttigieg has surged back to 10% in the polls, a threshold he struggled to break earlier in the primary. He seems prepared to exceed it, riding on peeled-away Biden voters, but his lack of minority appeal will limit him. Buttigieg faces an uphill battle in Nevada and South Carolina, which are far less white than the two states that he performed well in so far.

Still, it’s easy to imagine Buttigieg slipping immediately into second place, or higher.

● ● ●

Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN): Klobuchar is riding high on her surprisingly strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, where she earned around 12% and 20% of the vote, respectively. That certainly won’t help her at all in Nevada or South Carolina, but it makes her a Super Tuesday option alongside Sanders, Buttigieg, Biden, and Warren.

Still, her national polling remains below 5% for now. Traction has come painfully slowly for Klobuchar so far in this primary, but it is coming.

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Andrew Yang (NY): Yang, as predicted, was kept off the board in Iowa, though some of his caucus groups dramatically joined the Sanders groups in a show of unity.

After a disappointing showing in New Hampshire that mirrored his national polling, Yang dropped out on the evening of the election. Yang has not made an endorsement yet, but these are the earliest stages of his post-candidacy, and he might not address an endorsement for weeks. I’m somewhat surprised. I thought Yang might take his self-driven campaign a little further, but he is more reasonable than I believed. He had begun to signal the end of his campaign last week, and he’s already made his point about his signature proposal, the $1000-a-month Freedom Dividend.

● ● ●

Tom Steyer (CA): Days before the New Hampshire primary, Steyer announced his support for a $22 minimum wage. This is less extreme than it sounds. If wages had kept up with corporate profits from the 70s onward, this would be roughly where the minimum wage would belong; this is a very rich nation. And any wage increase would be done incrementally to prevent economic blowback.

Now Steyer is just biding his time, waiting for South Carolina. He didn’t show up in Iowa or New Hampshire, but he didn’t intend to show up. For what it’s worth, he came in first place in New Hampshire among candidates who have no national delegates yet, with 3.6%.

It will be interesting to see how he does in South Carolina, where he is polling at 10% to hold third place, and how that carries him into Super Tuesday.

● ● ●

Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI): She thought it was okay that she didn’t do well in Iowa. It was not.

Gabbard had focused heavily on New Hampshire, and her polling was strongest there, but she fell flat in the actual election, coming in a very fitting seventh place. Her performance lagged far behind her polling. Gabbard has no reason to continue her campaign. However, she’s been defying my insistence that she should drop out for weeks, so at this point, who knows?

● ● ●

Senator Michael Bennet (CO): Bennet was a non-factor in Iowa, as predicted, and came up insanely short in New Hampshire. He focused entirely on the state, put all his eggs in that basket, and he came up with less than a thousand voters. Total.

On the evening of the election, Bennet duly ended his campaign.

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Former Governor Deval Patrick (MA): The town hall slot that CNN gave Patrick didn’t do the trick. He earned less than 1% of the vote in New Hampshire, and today, he dropped out of the race.

REPUBLICANS

The Curious Case of Senator Mitt Romney (UT): Well, Mitt’s big moment came. First, he voted with Democrats to allow witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, but the vote failed. Meanwhile, Romney was disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference, which is probably the most influential conservative summit in the country.

Then on Wednesday, Senate failed to convict President Donald Trump (FL) by a vote of 47-53 on the charge of obstruction of Congress, and 48-52 on the charge of abuse of power. The 48th vote on the abuse of power charge came from none other than Mitt Romney. President Trump subsequently went on to attack Romney after firing several impeachment witnesses.

Although I still don’t expect impeachment to impact the presidential election, this is historic. What Republicans decried as a partisan process was only partisan because any Republican who dissented with Trump had already been driven out of the party. Romney’s vote here will cement forever the fact that impeachment was a bipartisan affair, and that there used to be Republicans who disagreed with Trump. The Republican Party can say what it wants, but history will record something very different.

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Incumbent President Donald Trump (FL): Trump won the Iowa caucuses handily, with 97% of the vote. This result validates the existing polling on the Republican primary, and it suggests that the Trump resistance is essentially nonexistent. This bodes very poorly for Former Representative Joe Walsh (IL), who would be smart to drop out, and slightly less poorly but still very poorly for Former Governor Bill Weld (MA), who still had one last shot in New Hampshire to drum up support. Trump took a surprisingly low 85.5% of the vote in the Granite State, which speaks to the degree to which the nomination is already wrapped up for him.

Also, notably, Trump was acquitted on February 5th in a nearly party-line vote, as detailed above in Romney’s section. This was essentially inevitable, and it clears Trump’s way to the 2020 general election.

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Former Governor Bill Weld (MA): None of the Trump challengers even hit 2% in Iowa. Weld, a New Englander, survived that loss to try his hand in New Hampshire, where he had invested far more energy. He came up with an impressive, but futile, 9.1% of the vote. With zero delegates earned, Weld barely has a reason to stick around. Super Tuesday and his home state of Massachusetts are the last stop for him.

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Former Representative Joe Walsh (IL): Walsh, a Midwesterner, came up empty-handed in Iowa, which was supposed to be an opening for him, however small. He subsequently somehow came in fourth place in New Hampshire, losing to some lady named Mary Maxwell, a “constitutionalist” who has never held office.

Showing that he is not viable in Iowa showed that he is not viable anywhere; which should not have been surprising. I guess I just expected unusual turnout to cause an unusual result. In a way, it did. Trump supporters turned out in huge numbers, outperforming Trump’s polling averages.

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Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente: Rocky came up short in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well. We know that he will remain in the race until the very end. He’s a perennial candidate; it’s what he does. Now, however, de la Fuente has fallen to third-tier status in an election that frankly only has one tier: Trump himself.

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