I’m trying to remember the last time I wrote explicitly about politics. Reflecting on that, it seems rather odd given that I am a bit of a political junkie and briefly toyed with the idea of majoring in political science. And yet, I haven’t been as tuned in politically in recent weeks as I would like to be, mainly because of my day job and creative pursuits. But all that changes today, because today was the day of the Iowa Caucus.
There are still nine months to go before the general election, but the road to conventions is now officially on. The pre-November election cycle is so confusing, most people who work for the system don’t even understand it or really know what winning the caucus really means. Essentially, each state has a designated number of delegates, who pledge to vote for a specific candidate. In effect, it is a pre-vote. Which is still technically a vote. To put it in the terminology of my generation, the caucus is the pre-drink of the election cycle. The party before the party.
The Iowa caucus has long been an important moment in the lives of many campaigns, as it always takes place first. That being said, in recent years, the winner of Iowa has not become President or even the nominee. Which doesn’t bode well for Ted Cruz. So thank you Iowa. You’ve assured your neighbours to the north, that the man they disowned will not be the leader of the free-world. But oi vey, Trump still might.
Yes, the perennial punchline finished just 4% behind Typhoon Ted, or roughly 6 000 votes. This means The Donald gets seven delegates to Cruz’s eight. Third place finisher – and new “establishment” frontrunner -Marco Rubio, who finished just over 2 000 votes behind Trump, also received seven. Former star candidate Brother Jeb finished with a measly 3% of the vote and received one delegate; 12 000 votes less then Black Jesus Ben Carson. Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa in 2008, suspended his campaign after receiving a mere 2%. I imagine Jim Gilmore will be soon to follow because, who the hell is Jim Gilmore? The stunning barbershop quartet of Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Chris Christie got a combined 5% and received no delegates. Ayn Rand’s love child Rand Paul came away with one, which, is not a bad offering for the libertarian.
But enough with the party whose candidates are so numerous they couldn’t fit in a stretch limousine. The Donkey Party’s results were much more interesting. It’s almost midnight here on the west coast and it is still a “virtual tie”. Hilary is at 49.9%, The Bern sits in at 49.6%. Which makes drop-out Martin O’Malley’s 0.5% (some sources say 0.6) very very interesting. Although he has already indicated that he is suspending his campaign and his votes won’t really go to either candidate, if he hadn’t been in the race at all, would Bernie have gone over the 50% mark. Now that O’Malley is out, where will votes. Technically because Hilary leads by the slimmest of margins – some sites have reported the difference to be as little as FOUR votes – she gets one extra delegate, 22 to Bernie’s 21. But that’s only the beginning of the story.
All points bulletin: there are missing Iowa delegates. Nobody is quite where they went or why they vanished but it makes things on the democratic end a bit more confusing and controversial. It has been reported that five counties in Iowa – Ames among them – resorted to coin tosses to decide who gets the extra delegates. Hilary supposedly won all five. Or perhaps Vermin Supreme has them inside his boot. Maybe they were simply eaten by Chris Christie. Could Rick Santorum have… uh never mind. Trump had them deported. And shot.
What does it all mean? Well it certainly bodes well for Marco Rubio, who although he is competing for the same voters as Cruz, is much more well-liked by the party and actually has sensible policies on immigration and the economy. He has now succeeded Bush 3.0 as the 2016 Mitt Romney. On the democratic side it has to a win for Bernie. Mainly because no one thought he could do it. But this 74 year old socialist Jew from Virginia has become the man to beat. Yes it’s true that Hilary is popular among women and older voters, but Bern definitely has the younger crowd (and the old hippies like Neil Young and Art Garfunkel). He has waged a positive campaign on very little money and has proven he can play ball with even the most experienced political dogs. (He was a Representative for 16 years before switching to the Senate). Also, because Iowa is far more red than blue, the upcoming primary in New Hampshire will far more useful to Bernie. So will California and New York, which have oodles more delegates than the home of Kevin Costner’s corn field.
With two candidates left for the dems and at most five for the Republicans, this race has only just begun. But I have been #feelingthebern for a long time now.
Post-it: For a great breakdown on how primaries work and the nature of polling, check out this fantastic article by Nate Silver