In the wake of the Iowa caucuses, 4 candidates for president have already suspended their campaigns (namely Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum and Martin O’Malley). This has only been the beginning of what will be a long and arduous presidential campaign, but this year’s Iowa caucus in particular has surprised many. Journalist Greg Giroux made the interesting observation that since 1972, no candidate who has finished worse than fourth place in Iowa has won the Democratic or Republican nomination.
If we assume that this pattern continues through to 2016, we would be left with the following candidates:
- Ted Cruz
- Donald Trump
- Marco Rubio
- Ben Carson
- Hillary Clinton
- Bernie Sanders
While I am certain that one of these 6 people will be in White House next year, this caucus has made me less confident that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, leaders of their respective parties when it comes to the polls (more about the polls later) will actually be the ones contesting the election ten months now. Below are my thoughts in the wake of these caucuses.
Marco Rubio now has a serious chance of getting the Republican nomination. Polls (which really haven’t been that accurate thus far) predicted he would lag far behind Cruz and Trump yet he finished a very impressive 3ʳᵈ, only 1% behind Trump and 4% behind Cruz. Once you consider that Iowa is a state which has a disproportionately higher evangelical base (which Cruz and Trump thrive on) it seems that it can only get better for Rubio. In fact, Rubio is the only candidate who appears to be able to beat Hillary Clinton in a general election. If Republicans consider Rubio’s broad appeal to Hispanics and younger voters, not only could he win the nomination, but the presidency too. I’ve already sung his praises as the Republican Party’s sole hope of beating the Democrats but don’t get me wrong; he still has quite the mountain to climb. After all, the spectre of Donald trump continues to loom over the party.
Bernie Sanders really can beat Hillary Clinton. Who would have thought 6 months ago that a 74 year old independent from Vermont would come within 0.3% of a former First Lady and Secretary of State? Iowa was meant to be a coronation for Clinton, but it took a coin toss for her to end up with more delegates than a self-described socialist. You really couldn’t make this up. He’s leading in New Hampshire by a margin which only seems to be getting larger and larger. It is perhaps a bit presumptuous on my end, but this mirrors Hillary’s 2008 bid which started strongly but faltered decisively around this time 8 years ago.
Ben Carson will fade away, and I still think Ted Cruz will too. The popularity of these two candidates hinges very heavily on evangelical voters, who, while having a relatively high turnout at elections, are becoming a smaller and smaller voting bloc. Carson’s 4ᵗʰ place cements his steep descent into the second tier of Republican candidates. I can’t say the same for Ted Cruz, who defied all odds and beat Trump to 1ˢᵗ place in Iowa. That being said, he too is starting to see his popularity erode to more moderate candidates such as Rubio and Kasich in New Hampshire and so I feel that in the coming months his candidacy will become less and less significant.
So, what have you taken from the caucuses? Still think it’s too early to decide? Drop a comment below!