Friday, February 14, 2020

The Campaign Continues

After New Hampshire, the campaign continues. But, quite contrary to what was once expected, neither Biden nor Warren will continue the campaign with even a single delegate from New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders seems to have won just about one-quarter of the votes in New Hampshire (more or less his same performance as in Iowa), the lowest ever for a Democratic "winner" in New Hampshire and noticeably less than the 60% he won there against Hillary Clinton four years ago. As in Iowa, Pete Buttigieg was right there behind Bernie in New Hampshire and is virtually tied with him in overall delegates so far. (Pete apparently has 22 total, Bernie 21) 

The only other significantly noteworthy development (besides Biden and Warren's almost complete collapse) was Amy Klobuchar's strong performance. So the campaign continues with Bernie Sanders as the media-anointed "front-runner," commanding the strong support of about a quarter of the democratic electorate and simultaneously strongly opposed by a more moderate majority divided at present between two attractive mid-westerners and desperately needing to become united behind either one of them or maybe by someone waiting in the wings (i.e., Mike Bloomberg).

From New Hampshire, the campaign continues on to Nevada on February 22, and then South Carolina one week later. The inclusion of the latter two as single events is obviously intended to balance Iowa and New Hampshire and create what we might call an inclusive quadrilateral. From there, however, the campaign continues to Super Tuesday, March 3, when all pretense of “retail politics” disappears as 14 states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia — vote all at once (a situation in which advertising money may matter more than anything else).

Can Sanders broaden his support beyond his fanatically committed quarter of the Democratic electorate? If not, will his disappointed supporters enable Trump's re-election either by voting for him directly (as some Sanders supporters did last time) or just staying home in those few but decisive places where every vote matters?

On the other hand, can Sanders' opponents unite behind someone - anyone - who can lead the party successfully into November? The most obvious choice in terms of his success so far would be Buttigieg. The most obvious choice in terms of his resources and his proven ability to annoy Trump might be Bloomberg. Will these upcoming primaries force a decision out of a hitherto undecided electorate?

The story of the campaign - so far at least - has been about the failure of mainstream Democrats to unite around one single candidate (replicating the situation the Republicans had in 2016). Several factors may have combined to cause this, but one obvious culprit has been the disastrous Biden candidacy which, with its gratuitously presumed claim to "front runner" status, got in the way of other possible candidates who might have had more to offer both as candidates and as potential presidents. .

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