Monday, February 10, 2020

Iowa Results: Party Divided Between Progressive and Pragmatic Wings

With 99 percent of the Iowa results in after four days of counting and recounting, it confirms polling that the Democratic Party, prior to starting a difficult election against Donald Trump, must first resolve a divide between its progressive wing (44%) represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the pragmatic wing (54%) with Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar.

Going into the Iowa caucus, it was assumed that Biden would lead the voters who most wanted to defeat Trump, but Buttigieg led the evening and tied Sanders as the frontrunner. This was a major blow for Biden, whose support and funding depends on the Democratic establishment of current and former officeholders and donors who are desperate for a winner and will rapidly shift their interest if they can find someone who they think can beat Trump. There is still some doubt that Buttigieg can survive the Trump onslaught based on his experience and youth. Although it’s not discussed publically, but for a country that just legalized gay marriage in 2015, it’s not clear that the Democrats’ core constituencies and the battleground states are ready for a gay nominee for president.

Two powerful candidates are watching this conundrum with self-interest. The President believes a disorganized Democratic Party will produce a weak nominee. And, Iowa’s non-candidate, Michael Bloomberg, believes he may become the default pragmatist after Super Tuesday. And, indeed, his national numbers are moving up in the last RealClearPolitics national primary average. He’s now fourth with 11 percent, just behind Warren (14%) and ahead of Buttigieg (7) and Klobuchar (4%).

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