Last week saw the fiasco that was the Iowa caucuses. Today the Democratic hopefuls head into the New Hampshire primaries, with Iowa’s results still murky. It looks like Pete Buttigieg is sitting at thirteen delegates and Bernie Sanders at twelve, per Bing! search results.
After the pandemonium last week, I expect the New Hampshire primaries will run a bit more smoothly. For one, they’re simple primaries, not Iowa’s convoluted caucus system, which requires voters to stand in parts of a room to represent their vote, then a reshuffling for candidates who don’t reach 15% support in the first round.
Indeed, at least one precinct—a very small town in New Hampshire that votes starting at midnight saw three write-in votes for Michael Bloomberg (out of a total of five votes). I heard on the radio this morning that another small New Hampshire town cut for Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.
For another, the Democrats have gotsta be scrambling for a good showing after Iowa. Of course, the Democratic Party has never been known for its sobering self-reflection, so who knows how they might screw up this round. If the allegations that they’re trying to block Bernie are true, there’s no telling what kind of shenanigans we could see tonight.
New Hampshire’s results should make for some interesting commentary and analysis tomorrow. It’s looking like there’s a roughly 30% chance (again, per analysis I heard on the radio) of a brokered convention for the DNC (FiveThirtyEight puts it around 24%).
Of course, there was a lot of speculation of a brokered convention for the Republicans back in 2016, which makes me wonder how much of this discussion is wishful thinking to prevent a Sanders nomination. There are whispers of Hillary Clinton waiting in the wings, ready to emerge as the dark-horse unifier in the event of a brokered convention. I would not doubt that she is plotting along those lines.
Brokered conventions—and divided parties—tend to favor uncontroversial outsiders, though, and Hillary Clinton is the ultimate insider. But, again, in the absence of any figure that could command the loyalty of the warring factions of the Democratic Party, Clinton could present herself as the “good enough” alternative—the rightful heiress to Obama’s legacy, unseated unfairly (per the Leftist narrative) by the boorish Trump. That’s a powerful narrative for progressives—they see Trump as an illegitimate usurper who stole the throne from its rightful ruler.
What will be interesting tonight will be who emerges with the win in New Hampshire. Mayor Bloomberg isn’t even competing in the first four primaries (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada), instead reasoning that his best best is to focus on Super Tuesday. Yet he’s already getting those write-in votes in New Hampshire. A write-in win is unlikely, but New Hampshire is a small State, and Strom Thurmond first got elected to the US Senate on a write-in campaign. It’s unlikely, but not impossible.
Biden’s fate is looking dimmer and dimmer, too. He’s banking on South Carolina at the end of the month, but a Quinnipiac poll shows he’s lost half of his support among black Americans since January. Most of that support has gone to Bloomberg. Again, I’m wondering if a strong write-in showing in New Hampshire might not have Bloomberg reconsidering his “Super Tuesday Only” strategy (although I think it’s too late to get on the ballots in SC and NV).
What the results tonight might demonstrate, too, is that the Iowa caucuses are meaningless, or at least overrated. That would be even truer this year, when the Iowa caucuses were a muddled disaster. Part of the perceived benefit of Iowa is that it gives the winner a media and word-of-mouth boost, but Buttigieg/Sanders didn’t really get that boost, as the results were so murky. They basically lost at least three days of clear-cut claims to victory (although I get the impression the media—both the mainstream Leftist media, and the NeverTrump commentariat—are plumping for Buttigieg).
Well, again, it’s all wild speculation at this point, regardless of what the polls say. But if Biden can’t mount a convincing showing in New Hampshire, followed by a win in South Carolina, he’s toast. That leaves a vacuum that’s going to see the progressives shift towards Bernie, and competition between Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg for the so-called “moderate” wing.
We’ll see! Hopefully tonight. But it’s the Democrats, so don’t bank on it.