By Dave Andrusko
Following Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’ crushing victory over Hillary Clinton last night, it’s quickly on to Nevada and South Carolina. And each candidate will have an immediate opportunity to further spin the results : Clinton and Sanders (who finished essentially in a dead heat in Iowa) will face each other in a debate tomorrow night.
Sanders’ overwhelmingly victory–60% to 38%–was all the more astonishing in that he prevailed in every demographic save those over 65 and those making more than $200,000 a year. He carried women, not by a point or two, but by 55% to 44%.
In its own way, billionaire Donald Trump’s triumph was equally as telling. With almost all votes tabulated Trump, who finished second in Iowa, had 35.4% to 15.7% for second place finisher, Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (who finished first in Iowa), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively–with 11.7%, 11%, and 10.5%.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in sixth and is reportedly considering whether to continue his campaign.
Three quick thoughts:
#1. With the possible exception of Gov. Christie, the top six finishers will all compete in South Carolina. New Hampshire’s reputation for “winnowing out” candidates did not work that way last night. Only businesswoman Carly Fiorina has withdrawn. As of this morning, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was continuing his campaign.
Gov. Kasich obviously was elated by his second place finish, after coming in eighth in Iowa.
#2. There is a great deal of talk about Mrs. Clinton’s various “firewalls”–places where she theoretically could stop Sen. Sanders’ momentum–which include South Carolina in late February and then “Super Tuesday” on March 1.
In fact the ultimate “firewall” may be neither but “superdelegates” who are “party officials who are free to commit to whomever they like, regardless of how their state votes,” as the Daily Caller pointed out today. Even though Sanders overwhelmed Clinton in the popular vote, of New Hampshire’s eight superdelegates, six are committed to Clinton with the remaining two uncommitted.
#3. I’ve been watching presidential politics since 1960. For sheer unpredictability, I can’t think of one election that comes even close to 2016.