The Iowa fiasco proved to be a pivotal point in the Democrats’ presidential horse race. Despite the chaos – and that is just something for the Democratic Party with which to deal – the outcomes produced important results for each of the candidates. Only in Iowa can the winner of the popular vote in both rounds be said to be tied with the second-place candidate – who will get more delegates and be declared the official winner. More important than the flawed process is what the candidates can take away.
The Underwater Candidates
For a whole bunch of candidates, hope that some political surprise would launch them into the front rank of double-digit contenders, Iowa was a death knell. Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, Deval Patrick, Tulsi Gabbard, Michael Bennett will either drop out or carry on for a short time as the political walking dead. The only interest they will draw is on the question of who gets their measly support when they drop off.
The first-in-the-nation primary exposed what former Vice President Joe Biden has been concealing for months. As predicted in my previous commentary, Biden would NOT be the Democrat standard bearer in 2020. While a lot of deference was paid to his status as the senior Democrat emeritus, there was never the foundation of a viable and sustainable campaign.
The earliest indication was the fact that the Fat Cats did not see him as a winner among the Democrat field. That was clearly established by the fact that Biden – a former Vice President with a 38-year career at the pinnacle of politics – was unable to even come close to the fundraising capabilities of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Biden could not even match that neophyte mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.
Biden is not only losing, he is being humiliated in the process. We may have not seen the last nail pounded into his political casket, but his campaign is definitely R.I.P.
His fourth place in the Iowa caucuses – and his likely similar defeat in the New Hampshire primary – will just make the day of his departure from the race that much closer. He can hang on for a miraculous resurrection in South Carolina, but even that prospect dims after Iowa. A victory in South Carolina would just be a pause in his decline.
Iowa means Senator Elizabeth Warren is still a viable candidate – not leading, but viable. Her benefit comes at the expense of Sanders, with whom she divides the newly empowered radical left-wing of the Democratic Party. If Warren can sustain her campaign past Super Tuesday, she could cost Sanders the nomination. As of now, that is her only role. She is not likely to be the Democrats’ standard bearer in 2020. In fact, she is not likely to be on the ticket in the Vice President slot. Sanders could not have someone as radical as him and Biden, Buttigieg, Bloomberg or Klobuchar would never pick her.
Iowa was a win for Senator Bernie Sanders. He was the choice of the voters by plurality if not majority. He proved that among the Democrat faithful, “socialist” is not a dirty word and that the snake oil of free college, free healthcare, free daycare and free anything else has an appeal to the gullible and greedy on the port side of the Democratic Party. Buttigieg certainly took the luster off Sanders’ showing in Iowa but did not really knock him out as the number one pick of the progressives.
Sanders’s biggest problem coming out of Iowa was that he did not live up to the pre-primary anticipation. While he did good, he did not do as well as many – including Sanders – expected.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is a lady in waiting. She cannot launch herself in the top ranks of candidates. Iowa made that very clear. She needs to be sucked into a vacuum created by the collapse of a moderate alternative. That is happening to Biden as we speak, but it is Buttigieg who elbowed himself into the next in line moderate. Even if Buttigieg is not a long-distance runner – as may believe – there is always Bloomberg and his billions ready to take up the moderate standard. For Klobuchar, there are just too many moderates in line ahead of her. Unlike Warren, however, Klobuchar does have a shot at the vice-presidential nomination – especially since a male presidential candidate will be obligated to select a woman under the Democrats’ unofficial rules of political correctness.
Former New York Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also a winner in Iowa – even though he skipped spending any real money in the Hawkeye State. He was a winner because Biden was a loser. The former Vice President’s spiraling downward, Buttigieg suffering maturity and experience questions and Klobuchar stuck in single digits, Bloomberg has an opportunity to lay claim to the moderate banner.
While his money gives him a unique advantage, an even greater benefit is the Democrat establishment’s apoplexy over Sanders and Warren. The fear of one of the radical progressives taking the nomination has reached hysterical levels. The folks in Washington even changed the rules to put Bloomberg on the debate stage after his large “donation” to the Party.
No ifs, ands or buts about it. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the BIG winner in Iowa … period. Unlike Sanders, who failed to reach the high pre-primary anticipation, Buttigieg exceeded his. He was the surprise of the caucuses. He is not likely to gain the nomination for President nor be the choice for Vice President, but he is almost certain to be a rising star. He could run again for the Senate in Indiana – or even in a more liberal state. He could be appointed to the Cabinet by a Democrat President. And he could conceivably be a candidate for President in the next 10 cycles.
Buttigieg could claim his prize in any number of years to come. He sees himself as the face of the new generation. For now, it is just too young of a face. Give it four to eight more years and he could be the guy accepting the generational torch.
So, there ‘tis.