The Green Papers
The Green Papers

From Iowa to New Hampshire '16

Mon 8 Feb 2016

It's not personal- it's just Politics.--
attributed to the late President (and former Senate Democratic Leader) LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON

Politics is a dirty business. This is a dirty record.--
from the cover of the comedy album PAT PAULSEN FOR PRESIDENT

There is an old saying in Sports: Act like you've been there before!

Coming out of Iowa and on to New Hampshire, we saw the still front-runners in national poll numbers from each Major Party at least somewhat violate that very precept.

In the case of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it was so important for her to have won the Iowa Democratic Caucuses (and, at the same time, try to not allow Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to claim even a "moral victory") that the word came forth- right in the midst of the caucus results still coming in last Monday night- that she had, indeed, so won!

Why?: because- eight years ago- this same Hillary Clinton (then still a U.S. Senator from New York), the then-apparent future 2008 Democratic Party presidential nominee (or so was the prevailing opinion of many within the Wacky, Wonderful World of Punditry), had lost the same State's caucuses (in fact, she actually came in third) to an upstart (back then, of course, it was then-U.S. Senator from Illinois [now twice-elected President of the United States] Barack Obama) and- dammit- it was not going to happen again!

OK... so at least Mrs. Clinton didn't lose in Iowa this time round... but (other than technically, by 3.77 'State Delegate Equivalents' out of a total of 1,405.08) did she really win outright?...

for, unless Clinton fairly trounced Mr. Sanders (which the latest polls in Iowa on the eve of these caucuses- if nothing else- clearly showed was not going to happen, no matter who actually ended up with the plurality of such 'State Delegate Equivalents'!), Senator Sanders was going to be able to ride good ol' "Mo Mentum" into his own neighboring State of New Hampshire in any event (the price Mrs. Clinton herself still pays- though not so dearly this time round as before- for being, once again, the presumptive "presidential nominee in waiting" because of these very results in Iowa [this time round, a virtual tie]).

In truth, and as of this typing, Clinton is currently but a mere 2,376 delegates away from her own Party's "Grand Prize" (while Sanders himself remains at the starting line: 2,382 delegates away from same) because, on the Democratic side of the presidential nomination race "ledger", not a single National Convention delegate was actually officially pledged as a result of last Monday's Iowa caucuses: only the estimate that 6 of Iowa's 8 "superdelegates" (formally known as "Unpledged 'Party Leaders or Elected Officials' [aka 'PLEO's]") are already in Hillary's camp gives Mrs. Clinton something of a (slight-- very slight) "leg up" coming out of Iowa...

after all (as well as once again [with feeling]), It's the Delegates, Stupid!!!

Meanwhile, the Republicans actually bound National Convention delegates from the Hawkeye State (via a 'Presidential Poll' [really what, at one time, would've been known as a "firehouse primary"] held concomitantly with the Iowa Republican caucuses last Monday).

Surprisingly (again, based on the latest polls in Iowa on the eve of the caucuses), Donald Trump came in second to Texas Senator Ted Cruz...

... but at least Mr. Trump, unlike Mrs. Clinton, has never "been there before".

In the immediately aftermath of the Iowa caucuses, Trump was publicly gracious about this but- soon thereafter (within less than 24 hours)- the news came forth that Trump was accusing Cruz of "stealing" the results in Iowa. This last was primarily based on reports of caucus-goers supporting Senator Cruz (supposedly doing so under direct instructions from the Cruz campaign) telling other caucus-goers that Dr. Ben Carson had dropped out of the GOP presidential nomination race (when, in fact, he had not) before the caucuses had even begun that evening (in the hopes that such Carson supporters in these caucuses would now add their own votes to whatever other votes Cruz might get in a given caucus).

One thing has to be fairly noted here: one, that Trump lost to Cruz- in the 'Presidential Poll'- by more than 3 percent of the total 186,932 votes cast in same; that's a 6,237-vote margin! The very math simply does not very well support the notion that Cruz won solely because of such political chicanery (for: in how many caucuses did this actually take place? Carson himself received only 17,394 votes: how many more votes [that, supposedly, the good doctor did not get] could his otherwise supporters have then possibly provided Cruz? What guarantee- given the fact that the 'Presidential Poll' itself was a secret ballot (despite the openness of the caucus procedure itself, one primarily used to elect precinct delegates to upcoming County Republican Conventions across the Hawkeye State)- could there possibly have been that the comparatively few now-former Carson supporters attending scattered caucuses actually cast even most of their respective votes for Cruz? [Put another way: might Trump himself have, however inadvertently, also benefited?]).

What seems to have most gotten Trump's proverbial "goat", however, was the fact that far more attention was being paid to Florida Senator Marco Rubio having finished third in Iowa than Trump's own having, in the end, finished (albeit barely) ahead of Rubio (for how many Carson-become Cruz votes Trump himself didn't get might have led to just this result?). Meanwhile, Rubio himself had held what was, to all intents and purposes, a "victory rally" at the end of Caucus Night in the Hawkeye State.

Problem is: Rubio's third-place finish was something of a victory for him (despite its being "pooh pooh"ed by many a pundit all across the political ideological spectrum):

Certainly, going into the caucuses, Senator Rubio had not been at all expected to finish so close to the second-place finisher in Iowa (regardless of who it was to be); in addition, it put the Florida Senator immediately into the position of being the leading candidate who is not either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump (both of whom are, seemingly, so feared and loathed by the so-called Republican 'Establishment').

Finally, Rubio (along with Trump) is now only 1,230 delegates away from the Grand Old Party's presidential nomination (although Cruz is already 1 delegate closer still).

Of course, I write pretty much all of that which I have written above with tongue in cheek (albeit only partially so).

As I myself have already opined, we are not going to have an even halfway decent handle on who has the proverbial "inside track" (to either Major Party's presidential nomination) until we are already well into next month. On the Republican side of things in particular, it is going to take more than a few weeks yet to sort everything out as regards who really has a viable shot at winning the Grand Old Party's presidential nomination.

In the end, there will be four basic "slots"- each to be filled by a different (single) GOP candidate- providing pathways to that Party's presidential nomination this year. Any other presidential contender- besides these four "slot-fillers"- is simply "along for the ride" (for only as long as the campaign money holds out, that is):

One of these "slots" will be filled by Donald Trump (because, being self-funded, he can stay in as long as he might wish [unless he, in the end, does end up running an Independent campaign for President-- despite "the Pledge" (which Trump can always break: simply because, unlike any other Republican candidate, he can)]), another by Ted Cruz (if only because no other GOP presidential contender is going to be able to get to his Right). The third such "slot" will be filled by someone who can attract at least some of the kinds of voters also attracted to Cruz and/or Trump- but without much sacrificing support from at least some of those who least want either Cruz or Trump to be the Grand Old Party's nominee (as of this typing, this "slot" appears to belong to Marco Rubio [although Rubio certainly had a rough night during Saturday's nationally televised debate among the leading Republican candidates], pending the results out of New Hampshire this Tuesday).

It is the filling of the fourth, and final, "slot" that is the most intriguing, however and the Granite State's Republican Presidential Primary will do much to determine this. The battle for this last "slot" is between those in that group of presidential contenders known collectively as 'the Governors': former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and current Ohio Governor John Kasich. Whoever within this group gains the least votes in New Hampshire in this group is almost certainly gone (if not actually knocked out of the race for the GOP nomination outright, at least reduced thereby to but a marginal candidacy heading on to at least South Carolina, if not also on to Nevada, that will very likely still be gone sooner or later); the remaining two 'Governors', on the other hand, will almost certainly remain in the race for the time being (unless the one in the group who gains the most votes in New Hampshire is so far ahead of the other, in which case yet another 'Governor'-candidate is then also "on the ropes").

Absent a miracle in New Hampshire, I cannot see Carly Fiorina staying in the race much longer herself (and I won't even give more than a passing mention here to former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore [for I can't, for the life of me, understand why- or, for that matter, how- he's even still running!]). As for Ben Carson: the longer he stays in the race, the greater becomes his overall irrelevancy (in other words, he is in grave danger of merely becoming the 2016 Republican equivalent of Democrat Dennis Kucinich back in 2004 and 2008).

But, of course, I could be completely wrong (and, at least, I'm willing to so openly admit this)...

Again, New Hampshire votes on Tuesday... stay tuned!...

Modified .