By Doug Porter
The first scene from the first act of the drama that is the 2016 presidential election has ended. Today we’ll look at jubilant winners and sore losers, the spin and the spun, of the Iowa caucuses.
Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ended up with the closest contest in state Democratic caucus history. Clinton was awarded 700.59 state delegate equivalents, versus 696.92 for Sanders, with 171,109 Democratic voters participating. Both campaigns celebrated the results.
Ted Cruz led the Republican pack, beating out The Donald. Coming in at a close third, Marco Rubio is on his way to becoming the candidate of choice for conservatives who’d like a little less cray-cray in the mix. According to ABC News, turnout for Republican caucuses was estimated to be more than 180,000, beating the previous record of 121,354 caucus goers set in 2012. Democratic turnout, by the way, was down by 29% from 2008.
The Iowa caucuses were the end of the road for at least two campaigns: Democrat Martin O’Malley and Republican Mike Huckabee threw in the towel as the votes were counted. Also- Ben Carson flew off on a plane to “pick up some clean clothes” and Carly Fiorina left town without showing up for her post-election party.
Iowa: the Democrats
With much of the Democratic party establishment behind her, Hillary Clinton eked out a win. She won union households by a 9% margin and with people over 45 years of ago.
My recollection is that in past years the Union-Tribune would run just one story on the caucus results, with the news about Democrats buried. This time around, both major parties got their own coverage. (Baby steps)
A snip from Union-Tribune coverage on the Democrats:
The razor-close vote count reflected an intense struggle between the two campaigns that had tightened dramatically in recent weeks. But while Clinton’s lead was slim, it was nonetheless critical. With Sanders leading in polls in New Hampshire, whose Feb. 9 primary is the next nominating contest, a clear defeat for Clinton here would have resuscitated all the doubts that Democrats have had about her ability to inspire and motivate the party’s voters.
Now, though Sanders clearly has sufficient money and ardent backing of his liberal supporters to challenge Clinton for months, the pressure will shift to him. Iowa, like New Hampshire, has a Democratic electorate made for a campaign like his – heavy with the liberal, white voters who have formed the core of his support. After next week, few states will be as congenial to him.
Speaking to supporters at a rally in Des Moines as the final votes trickled in, Clinton declared she was “breathing a sigh of relief” and called for unity among Democrats. “We have to be united when it is all said and done … against a Republican vision and candidates who drive us apart and divide us,” she said as she ticked off a litany of Democratic goals, including combating climate change and a drive to “finish the job of universal health-care coverage for every man, woman and child.”
As to be expected, the Clinton campaign put the best spin possible on the close contest.
From the Washington Post:
Iowa, a state where Clinton had a far superior ground organization and where she had established a presence months before Sanders, ended in a near tie. For Clinton, the too-close-to victory blunts her momentum going into New Hampshire, where polls show Sanders has a sizable advantage.
But Clinton’s aides said that they viewed Iowa as “tailor-made” for Sanders, and that despite his advantages with the state’s liberal Democratic base, he was unable to win.
“Sanders has been saying for several weeks that if this caucus was a high turnout affair, then he would win,” said Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon. “He was wrong.”
The Cheering Crowds
The near-victory energized supporters of Bernie Sanders.
From Common Dreams:
“I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and, by the way, to the media establishment,” Sanders said. “That is, given the enormous crises facing our country it is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics.”
Later, as his supporters cheered and chanted, Sanders concluded by telling the crowd what he said no other candidate would tell them or the American people. His message, he said, was that no president alone can possibly make the change that it necessary to fix the system that is “rigged” against working people. “That is why,” he said, “what Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution.”
“Enough is enough!” Sanders concluded. And the crowd went wild.
The “entry” polling of Democrats pointed out differences among caucus goers. Those favoring continuity of Obama policies broke for Clinton 68%-26%. Participants looking for a more liberal approach favored Sanders, with 76% supporting him.
The Young Vote: Less Than Expected
Of course, lots of reporters noted the age difference in Clinton vs. Saunders supporters. An NBC exit poll had 84% percent of Democratic voters between 17 and 29 backing Sanders. He also garnered support from 58% of the next age bracket up, those between 30 and 44.
Here’s Sarah Kliff at Vox, with the bad news, namely that the younger folks didn’t show up in large enough numbers to put Sanders over the top:
These numbers are especially remarkable when you consider how they compare with Obama’s 2008 Iowa primary. Back then, exit polls showed that he netted 57 percent of the same demographic. Clinton, by comparison, had 10 percent of young adults in the 2008 primary — a slightly smaller share than her 14 percent this time around.
The last Democratic primary, of course, was a more crowded field. Young adults had more candidates to choose from, and some threw their support behind John Edwards and Bill Richardson.
Young adults made up a smaller share of Democratic voters this time: They were 18 percent of caucus-goers in 2016, compared with 22 percent in 2008. Still, enough of them got behind Sanders that they were able to boost his performance significantly — and send him off to New Hampshire in a strong way.
At The Nation, the verdict was that regards of delegate counts, Saunders ideas had won, forcing Clinton into a more populist stance:
She was declaring on the eve of the first-in-the-nation voting that it was time to dramatically increase wages, to renew American manufacturing, to invest in the physical infrastructure of the land, and to build out the social infrastructure with bold commitments to make education affordable and healthcare accessible.
Yes, she explained, this program would require resources. But the money to pay for new investments, for new commitments to build a more just and civil society, can be found, Clinton told a rally in Council Bluffs. “We’re going to get it from the wealthy, from the people who’ve done very well in this economy, even during the great recession,” she said.
Campaigning on a tax-the-rich pledge to implement new taxes on those with yearly incomes of more than $1 million and an even greater “fair share” tax on those making more than $5 million annually, the candidate ripped into millionaires and billionaires for “evading taxes” and decried their greed.
“This is corrosive to our democracy,” Clinton declared, and the crowd roared its approval.
The message was powerful. And it kept Clinton competitive in a year of political upheaval.
Iowa: The Republicans
The pollsters were wrong. The Donald was supposed to win with 29% of the vote. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio outperformed their polls receiving 28% and 23% respectively.
Over at FiveThirtyEight.com, the polling mavens took the upset in stride.
It’s not uncommon for the polls to be off in Iowa and other early-voting states, but the manner in which Trump underachieved is revealing. It turns out that few late-deciding voters went for him. According to entrance polls in Iowa, Trump won 39 percent of the vote among Iowans who decided on their candidate more than a month ago. But he took just 13 percent of voters who had decided in the last few days, with Rubio instead winning the plurality of those voters…
…there’s good reason to think that the ground game wasn’t the only reason for Trump’s defeat. Republican turnout in Iowa was extremely high by historical standards and beat most projections. Furthermore, Trump won the plurality of first-time caucus-goers.
There may have been a more basic reason for Trump’s loss: The dude just ain’t all that popular. Even among Republicans.
Trump surrogate Sarah Palin dismissed the results, saying polls are usually “only good for strippers”
Ted Cruz apparently gave a barn-burner of a speech, following news of a victory in the Iowa caucuses.
From the Union-Tribune:
A jubilant Cruz, who has basked in the contempt of his congressional peers – Democratic and Republican alike – assailed the “Washington establishment” and said his win was a victory “for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation.”
“Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next president of the United states will not be chosen by the media. Will not be chosen by the Washington establishment. Will not be chosen by the lobbyists, but will be chosen by the most incredible force where all sovereignty resides in our nation, by we the people,” said Cruz, who was joined at the Iowa State Fairgrounds by his wife, Heidi, and Iowa’s firebrand GOP Rep. Steve King.
As Laura Clawson at Daily Kos put it, there’s no reason to celebrate a Cruz victory over The Donald:
Has Ted Cruz finally given the far far right what it’s looking for in an Iowa caucus winner? Cruz isn’t just a candidate for the Christian right, he’s also uniquely beloved by the kill-government crowd, including groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action.
And here’s the AJ+ video made back in December, explaining the Cruzian path to the nomination:
FYI, via Fusion: According to a new poll from Langer Research Associates, 73% of young black Americans said that a Donald Trump win of the presidency would make them consider leaving the country, compared to 54% percent of people aged 18 to 35 in general.
On This Day: 1848 – The Mexican War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty ceded portions of land to the US, including Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. The U.S. gave Mexico $15,000,000 and assumed responsibility of all claims against Mexico by American citizens. 1963 – The Beatles began their first British tour supporting Helen Shapiro. 1977 – Legal secretary Iris Rivera was fired for refusing to make coffee; secretaries across Chicago protested.
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