Super Tuesday: A reversal of fortune

Dan Guild reflects on the weekend’s two game-changing events, which have no precedent in Democratic presidential campaigns. -promoted by Laura Belin

“Events dear boy, events” – attributed to to British Prime Minister Harold McMillan, though whether he said it is disputed.

I have spent a good amount of time studying primary polling.  The single most important lesson I have learned is that they are subject to sudden change. It is why I love the McMillan quote – it captures how unpredictable events can rapidly change the political calculus. 

This weekend we saw two race-changing events in 24 hours: Joe Biden’s decisive win in South Carolina and the sudden departure of Pete Buttigieg, the winner of the Iowa caucuses (depending on how you measure the results). These two events in combination are impossible to model. The Iowa winner has never withdrawn this early.  A front-runner has never performed so badly as Biden has before South Carolina and then recovered.

Having said that, I think history offers two parallels:

Continue Reading...

How the Iowa caucuses work, part 1: The new 2020 rules

Expanded and revised from a series published at Bleeding Heartland during the 2016 election cycle

The Iowa caucuses are a notoriously complicated process, and new rules intended to make the caucuses more representative have added to the confusion. This post will cover the basics of what will happen on the evening of February 3 and the three ways the Democratic results will be reported. Later pieces will examine other elements of the caucus system:

Part 2 will explore barriers that keep many politically engaged Iowans from participating in the caucuses, despite several attempts to improve accessibility.

Part 3 will focus on caucus math, which creates different ways to win a Democratic precinct, and for the first time this year, more than one way to win the state.

Part 4 will cover the role of precinct captains or other active volunteers, both before the caucuses and at the “neighborhood meeting.”

Part 5, to be published after results are in, will ponder whether the Iowa caucuses as we know them will soon cease to exist, given the growing sentiment among Democrats around the country that the first nominating contests should be in more diverse, representative states.

Continue Reading...

Why didn't Cory Booker take off in Iowa?

My father used to say the most optimistic person is the guy on the brink of bankruptcy. He’s always thinking the next sale or the next deal will turn everything around.

Cory Booker remained “incomprehensibly upbeat” on the campaign trail, in the words of Rebecca Buck, who spent a year covering him for CNN. The senator from New Jersey wasn’t just another unsuccessful candidate falling for his own spin. Booker made believers out of many who were closely watching the campaign.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Democrats dismiss Julián Castro's critique at our peril

“If you didn’t know anything about this process, and I told you how it was set up, you would think that a right-wing Republican set this process up, because it really makes it harder to vote than it should be,” Julián Castro told a room full of Iowa Democrats at Drake University on December 10.

Castro’s campaign organized the town hall (which I moderated) to highlight problems with the Iowa caucus system and a calendar that starts with two overwhelmingly white states.

Now that Castro has ended his presidential bid, it may be tempting to dismiss his critique as sour grapes from a candidate who wasn’t gaining traction in Iowa.

That would be a mistake. Castro is only the most high-profile messenger for a sentiment that is widespread and growing in Democratic circles nationally.

If Iowa Democrats want to keep our prized position for the next presidential cycle and beyond, we need to acknowledge legitimate concerns about the caucuses and take bigger steps to make the process more accessible.

Continue Reading...

Biden following Clinton's 2008 Iowa footsteps. Will Warren's surge hold?

Dan Guild puts the latest Iowa caucus poll for the Des Moines Register in historical context. -promoted by Laura Belin

In March of this year, I wrote that Joe Biden’s numbers looked weak for a front-runner. When Selzer & Co’s last poll of Iowa Democratic caucus-goers came out in June, Biden’s numbers were so weak that I wrote he will probably lose Iowa.

Selzer’s new Iowa Poll for the Des Moines Register, CNN, and Mediacom finds Biden losing support since the early summer. It also finds a new front-runner in Iowa who is in the midst of a surge nationally as well: Elizabeth Warren.

Before we get to the horse race numbers, let’s start with the single most important finding from the poll released on September 21:

Continue Reading...

Steve King implies Clintons should be executed

Ed Fallon discusses yet another offensive meme posted on Steve King’s Facebook page. -promoted by Laura Belin

I’m not prone to cliches, but I can’t get this one off my mind: You can’t teach an old dog a new trick. Witness hapless U.S. Representative Steve King (R-Eighteenth Century), who despite public chastisement by fellow House members for his comments in support of white supremacy, was again unable to conceal his propensity to think outside the sanity box.

Continue Reading...
View More...