The last week saw some major momentum for Joe Biden, as he smashed through big chunks of the Super Tuesday primaries. Then his most logical competitors, one by one, dropped out, no doubt after receiving some threatening phone calls from the DNC. That’s narrowed the field, essentially, to Biden and Bernie, with Congressbabe Tulsi Gabbard out there with some Somoan delegates and a dream of a debate appearance.
What seemed so unlikely even ten days ago—but was the conventional wisdom last summer—now seems plausible: Biden, possibly struggling with dementia, is on track to become the Democratic nominee for the presidency. There’s still a chance for a brokered convention, which would no-doubt devolve into chaos as angry Bernie Bros watched their doddering hero stripped of any chance at the nomination, but the safe bet at this point seems to be a narrow Biden win.
It’s a good reminder that these primaries can be incredibly unpredictable, but also that the establishment choice usually wins. I remember the 2012 Republican primaries, in which, week after week, one of the second-tier candidates would take the lead, only to fall behind or get knocked out of the race. Romney was the presumed front-runner, even though he was second in most of the polls, but none of the other candidates could stay out in the lead for long. It finally came down to Rick Santorum to offer some kind of alternative to Romney, and he, too, fell.
It’s why so many of us were dismayed when the media was trumpeting JEB! Bush as the Republican front-runner in early 2015. I was Trump-skeptical in those days (how wrong I was), but the thought of another Bush, even a capable one (JEB! was a great governor in Florida), getting the nomination was disheartening. Fortunately, Trump upended everything like a bull in a gold-plated hotel china shop.
Trump’s nomination now seems like an historical aberration—one for which I am extremely thankful. I’m hoping it’s the start of a new trend of populist firebrands (at least on the Republican side), but the circling of the DNC wagons around Biden suggests that the elites are still running the show, at least on that side of the political spectrum. Republicans do seem to listen to their base a bit more—sometimes.
Regardless, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some posts regarding the Democratic primaries to see some of the figures that rose and fell during the process. I’ll continue this review of recent history next Sunday.
“Box Wine Aunties for Williamson” – a social media savvy, New Age-y guru, Marianne Williamson was all the talk in the early days of the Democratic debates. That was during the point when the party, chastened by claims of a rigged primary season in 2016, was letting everyone and their brother get on television if they had enough small-ball donations. Thus, Williamson became an Internet sensation. In reading back through that post, my analysis relies a great deal on symbolism, which is increasingly important in an age in which memes and images convey complex meanings. Buuuuut the moon-bat dropped out.
“The Collapse of the Obama Coalition?” – The identity-politics-obsessed Left now bemoans the fact that the Democratic primaries are down to two old white dudes. It turns out there are many Democrats that don’t care about identity politics, but in 2019 the candidate I most feared was Senator Kamala Harris, the concubine-turned-prosecutor-turned-pandering-politico who seemed to check off all the intersectional boxes. She was a woman, black(ish), exotic—like Obama. If anyone could revive the frayed Obama coalition of the “marginalized,” it would be her. Of course, her inauthentic pandering to blacks was so transparent, they rejected her out-of-hand. Turns out black folks don’t like a half-Jamaican prosecutor who pretends to know about African-American culture and who spent her career locking them up.
“Iowa Caucuses: Disaster on the Prairie” – The Democrats love to sell themselves as do-gooding technocrats who “know how to get things done” (I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Warren has said that, with all the earnestness of every girl who cried over making a 98 on a quiz, constantly over the past year). Yet they botched the much-watched Iowa caucuses in spectacular fashion, using suspect technology with close ties to some of the candidates to calculate the results. Sometimes good old pencil and paper really are the way to go. Of course, that muddying of the waters screwed up the momentum for both the Bernie and the Buttigieg camps, and may have had downstream effects on both campaigns.
That’s it for this (unintentionally long) Lazy Sunday. Part II of this retrospective will be next week.
Biden is being propped up by the establishment wing of the Democratic Party. Amy “The Teacher’s Pet” Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both suspended their campaigns after Biden’s big win in South Carolina. Based on his performance in South Carolina, I figured that black voters were behind him thanks to his role as Obama’s VP. Sanders has struggled with black voters (who, in addition to not liking homosexuals, also don’t seem to care for elderly Jewish socialists).
Now Bloomberg has dropped out, too, and thrown his support to Biden. I called this one right as well: he was a red herring all along. Elizabeth Warren, who seems to reevaluating her pledge to “take it to the convention,” effectively destroyed him in the Nevada debates. It also puts to bed the notion that the presidency can be bought (at least at this point). Maybe if Biden had stumbled in SC (and Bloomberg had stayed out of the Nevada debate), Bloomy could have filled the vacuum of the Democratic “center,” but I doubt it.
The Democratic primaries continue to get more interesting. First, Buttigieg surprised analysts with a near-victory in Iowa (in fact, I’m still unclear who actually “won” the caucuses there). Elizabeth Warren took down Bloomberg on the eve of the Nevada caucuses, herself going down in flames in South Carolina.
There’s an echo there of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie taking down a robotic Marco Rubio in the debate just before the 2016 New Hampshire primaries. Christie had no chance of winning after New Hampshire, but he took Rubio down with him, exposing the would-be poster boy of the Republican Party as an overly-polished puppet. Similarly, Warren’s aggressive attacks on Bloomberg was the screeching harpies way of clawing Bloomberg down with her.
Of course, unlike Rubio, Bloomberg has billions of dollars at his disposal, and has pledged to keep spending big. That adds an interesting wrinkle, but I’ve held that Bloomberg is a very flashy red herring, and I’m not convinced he can buy primary victories. Super Tuesday will tell us a great deal, but I think the only winner from Bloomberg’s campaign will be television networks and social media outlets making a bundle from ad sales. I would love to get the commission on a Bloomberg ad buy.
With two competitions under their belts, the Democratic field is narrowing out rapidly. Andrew Yang, the pro-math, pro-universal basic income candidate, dropped out early in the evening. Joe Biden slunk away to South Carolina, where he will make his stand. Elizabeth Warren, the shrill cat lady in the race, was fairly drubbed.
Amy Klobuchar, the slightly-less shrill, younger cat lady with a fiery temper, managed to come in third, putting her one delegate behind Warren and one delegate ahead of Biden.
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 (FiveThirtyEightputs it around 24%).
But Buttigieg’s alleged “moderation” is a lie. On the issues, he’s far to the Left on many issues. Granted, that’s the overall trend in the Democratic Party, as everyone has had to embrace increasingly Leftist positions to remain electable in the activist-heavy primaries. Indeed, there’s no such thing as “conservative” Democrat anymore; such a creature is just a Republican who hasn’t taken the leap yet, for whatever reason.
Of course, this brings up a question: what exactly is political moderation? And a sub-question: does such a thing even exist?
President Trump turned last night’s State of the Union Address into prime time television. It was informative, persuasive, and downright entertaining.
Indeed, I can already picture the wags at National Review and other NeverTrump and Trump-skeptical outlets tut-tutting that Trump’s address is “beneath the decorum of the office” and the like. Talk about a bunch of scrooges.
It was a powerful speech. Trump started detailing all of the accomplishments of the past few years, with a specific focus on the improved conditions of black America. That’s a clever way to put the pressure on Democrats: compared to President Obama’s abysmal economic record, President Trump—so often slandered, unfairly, as a “racist”—has done far more to improve the lives of black Americans.
After some uncertainty and a great deal of speculation, the results are in: incumbent President Donald Trump has won the Iowa Republican caucuses in a landslide victory reminiscent of a Latin American dictator, clinching 97.1% of caucus-goers’ votes. Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed to see only clinched thirty-nine of the forty available delegates (Bill Weld managed to snag one with his impressive 1.3% vote share).
Oh, wait, you wanted the Democratic caucus results? Geeze, well, I’m afraid I can’t be of much help. Regular readers will note that this post is hitting very late in the day for me, and there’s a reason unrelated to Democratic incompetence (and/or the Party’s attempt to rig the caucuses against Bernie).
After all the anticipation, it’s finally here—the proper beginning of the 2020 presidential election. The Iowa caucuses kick off tonight, and there’s no telling how it’s all going to shake out (although it looks like Bernie is on track to have a good night).
The Iowa caucuses work differently than the primaries in other States. Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day today explains the process succinctly. Essentially, if a candidate does not receive 15% of the votes at a precinct, his or her supporters must recast their votes for one of the remaining candidates. That means that, while a candidate always wants to be a voter’s first choice, being the second choice can still work well. It also makes it possible to see where support will go if a candidate drops out.