Dove Magazine

Why a ‘Virtual Tie’ in Iowa Is Better for Clinton Than Sanders

Bernie Sanders is right: The Iowa Democratic caucuses were a “virtual tie,” especially after you consider that the results aren’t even actual vote tallies, but state delegate equivalents subject to all kinds of messy rounding rules and potential geographic biases.

The official tally, for now, is Hillary Clinton at 49.9 percent, and Mr. Sanders at 49.6 percent with 97 percent of precincts reporting early Tuesday morning.

But in the end, a virtual tie in Iowa is an acceptable, if not ideal, result for Mrs. Clinton and an ominous one for Mr. Sanders. He failed to win a state tailor made to his strengths.

The 2016 Race: Bernie Sanders Is Making Surprising Gains With Less Affluent Whites
He fares best among white voters. The electorate was 91 percent white, per the entrance polls. He does well with less affluent voters. The caucus electorate was far less affluent than the national primary electorate in 2008. He’s heavily dependent on turnout from young voters, and he had months to build a robust field operation. As the primaries quickly unfold, he won’t have that luxury.

Iowa is not just a white state, but also a relatively liberal one — one of only a few of states where Barack Obama won white voters in the 2008 primary and in both general elections. It is also a caucus state, which tends to attract committed activists.

In the end, Mr. Sanders made good on all of those strengths. He excelled in college towns. According to the entrance polls, he won an astonishing 84 percent of those 17 to 29 (17-year-olds can caucus in Iowa if they’re 18 by the general election) — even better than Mr. Obama in the 2008 caucus. He won voters making less than $50,000 a year, again outperforming Mr. Obama by a wide margin. He won “very liberal” voters comfortably, 58 to 39 percent.

But these strengths were neatly canceled by Mrs. Clinton’s strengths. She won older voters, more affluent voters, along with “somewhat liberal” and “moderate” Democrats.

This raises a straightforward challenge for Mr. Sanders. He has nearly no chance to do as well among nonwhite voters as Mr. Obama did in 2008. To win, Mr. Sanders will need to secure white voters by at least a modest margin and probably a large one. In the end, Mr. Sanders failed to score a clear win in a state where Mr. Obama easily defeated Mrs. Clinton among white voters.

Mr. Sanders’s strength wasn’t so great as to suggest that he’s positioned to improve upon national polls once the campaign heats up. National polls show him roughly tied with Mrs. Clinton among white voters, and it was the case here as well. It suggests that additional gains for Mr. Sanders in national polls will require him to do better than he did in Iowa, not that the close race in Iowa augurs a close one nationally.

Mr. Sanders will have another opportunity to gain momentum after the New Hampshire primary. He might not get as much credit for a victory there as he would have in Iowa, since New Hampshire borders his home state of Vermont. But it could nonetheless give him another opportunity to overcome his weaknesses among nonwhite voters.

As a general rule, though, momentum is overrated in primary politics. In 2008, for instance, momentum never really changed the contours of the race. Mr. Obama’s victory in Iowa allowed him to make huge gains among black voters, but not much more — the sort of exception that would seem to prove the rule. Mr. Obama couldn’t even put Mrs. Clinton away after winning a string of states in early February.

There’s an even longer list of candidates with fairly limited appeal, particularly Republicans like Rick Santorum, Pat Buchanan or Mike Huckabee, who failed to turn early-state victories into broader coalitions.

The polls this year offer additional reasons to doubt it. Mrs. Clinton holds more than 50 percent of the vote in national surveys; her share of the vote never declined in 2008. The polls say that her supporters are more likely to be firmly decided than Mr. Sanders’s voters.

Back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire by Mr. Sanders might have been enough to overcome that history. The no-decision in Iowa ensures we won’t find out. – NY TIMES –

Recommended For You.

Donald Trump is considering a new executive order to ban citizens of certain countries from travelling to the US after his initial attempt was overturned in the courts.
Donald Trump is considering a new executive order to ban citizens of certain countries from travelling to the US after

Related Articles:

Clinton to launch White House bid on Sunday: media
Burundi army chief 'escapes assassination attempt'
Damned Whores, 40 years on: women still stereotyped, says Penny Wong
UK is the best place in the world to die, according to end-of-life care index
Sweden school attack: police treat killing of pupil and teacher as racist hate crime
North Korea steps up army recruitment ahead of US military exercise
World's first bendable smartphone set to be launched this year by Chinese startup Moxi
Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 87

Leave a Reply

Advertisement

Developed by Amitabha Technology, Inc.