It’s been an eventful week in politics! There were new winners and losers in Iowa, four presidential candidates exited the race, President Obama visited a mosque, and Bernie and Hillary prepared to debate tonight. While Cruz and Clinton walked away with wins, a lot of political commentary focused on the strong showings of candidates Sanders and Rubio. Let’s have a look at the state of the election from a few different viewpoints.
Snippets from the Left
The Democratic Party has moved left and Sanders has tapped into activists' passion, especially on long-neglected issues like income inequality. The fact that the senator won a jaw-dropping 70 percent of voters under 30 shows that his ideas are the future of the party (for good or for ill).
But Clinton remains the odds-on favorite to win the 2016 nomination, as she's strongly positioned in South Carolina and Super Tuesday, which is a delegate jackpot.
Looking at the narratives that have played out this election, Rubio has been portrayed as the fresh-faced future of the Republican Party, while Clinton is the untrustworthy candidate of old (a not-so-subtle double entendre). The Iowa results gave fuel to both storylines.
But beware of what pundits are trying to sell you. They're too often seduced by the most sensational (and ratings-rich) narrative -- why do you think Trump gobbled up so much free airtime?
Snippets from the Right
Yes, the turnout turned out to be a record high, as Trump had promised. But not all the newcomers flocked in his direction, as he also prophesized.
Credit Cruz with standing his ground: he didn’t back down on opposing the ethanol subsidy. He didn’t deviate from his game plan of courting evangelicals.
However, the game plan wasn’t glitch-free: three out of five GOP caucus-goers identified as evangelicals in this year’s Republican caucuses – a higher percentage than in 2012. Yet, per the Fox News entrance polls, this portion of the vote didn’t break as heavily for Cruz as anticipated.
This suggests a core problem for Cruz moving forward: he’s bright, organized and a methodical strategist. But he’s just not likeable beyond that base of religious and constitutional voters. He’ll be hard-pressed to finish second in New Hampshire, where the electorate is less devoutly Protestant and less conservative – and Trump may be particularly vengeful.
Snippets from the Center
Iowa has once again proved its perennial resistance to political inevitability and the power of personality.
In this year's iteration of the Iowa caucuses, national polling leaders Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had their campaign momentum slowed in significant ways by party activists who preferred their rivals.
In the end, the unprecedented turnout among Republicans (roughly 50 percent more than the record set in 2012) was driven as much by the appeal of Trump's rivals as by Trump. But it did appear that age was the most important differentiating factor among Democrats. Sanders led Clinton by nearly 9 to 1 among voters under 30, while Clinton got two-thirds of the votes among those 65 and older.
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