Saturday, January 23, 2016

The early primaries are almost here

The political news here in the U.S. is focused on the February 1st Iowa caucuses and the February 9th New Hampshire primaries.  The following comments are on possible outcomes and, based on these unpredictable races thus far, may have little currency beyond today.

The caucus system in Iowa provides a completely different system than primaries, and it is unclear whether the various polls can be more or less accurate in this type of race.  One could think less. Looking at the Republicans, at the moment Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are clearly at the top of the polls for Iowa. Cruz is leading with the, in Iowa, particularly important evangelical vote. Trump is leading with the Trump voters, a diverse group politically with a common attraction to Trump's intuitive style and unrestrained bombast.  There is a thought here that the caucus system favors Cruz. The evangelicals are fired up and will get to the caucuses at the right location and on time. The Trump voters will plan to show up, but if they are tired and Jeopardy comes on they may just stay home.  Candidates with the possibility for a surprise third or fourth place showing are Ben Carson and Rand Paul.  If Marco Rubio shows up in the top four it would not be a surprise, but if he does not it would be damaging to him.  Any decent showing by Chris Christie or John Kasich would be boon to their campaigns.  Jeb Bush appears to be an also ran in popularity, and unless he has a much more significant organization than is apparent he will continue lag everywhere.

In New Hampshire, Trump has consistently maintained a large lead in the polls.  "Live free or die." As a primary, with votes finally decided after walking into a private polling booth, any events in the coming week that turn out to be meaningful have the potential to quickly change the results reflected in the polls significantly.  Could Trump have a bad hair day? Could Romney endorse Kasich?  Who knows?  Anything less than a win would be a poor showing for Trump.

As to the Democrats.  Clinton has had a far more organized campaign for months in Iowa, but Sanders gets much more enthusiastic crowds at rallies.  Will organization override the energy of people under 45?  The big question here about Clinton in general is whether she is likeable?  Are her controlled mannerisms and the appearance of a perpetually entitled approach to a campaign be her downfall again. Her knowledge of issues and debate presense have been exceptional, but are they what counts in this 2016 election season?  That is a comment not just for Iowa but for her entire campaign.  Her must win early state is South Carolina but a win in Iowa would be an exceptionally good start.  New Hampshire has been a good state for the Clintons over the years but her campaign has been busy sandbagging for the last month based on Sanders' New England home area "advantage".  Polls suggest that he does have a benefit from that, but will the practicality of New Hampshire Democratic voters who want a Democrat as President eventually win the day?

Lots of questions...

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