MANCHESTER, NH: With Bernie Sander’s victory surge in the New Hampshire primary the Democrat party faces the swift demise of Joe Biden and the end of Elizabeth Warren. It also faces a prolonged battle of splitting votes and energy between three centrist forces. Then there is the prospect of America’s Jeremy Corbyn, Socialist Bernie Sanders, winning the Democrat Party nomination. (Jeremy Corbyn attack on Boris Johnson during Commons deportation row)
A victory for Sanders, but also for Buttigieg and Klobuchar
While Bernie Sanders has momentum going into Nevada and South Carolina, the real winners of the New Hampshire primary are Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Buttigieg came very close to beating Sanders in the popular vote.
Bernie won significantly fewer votes in 2020 than in 2016 when he faced Hillary Clinton. Buttigieg, I think its safe to say, was not expected to perform this strong in either Iowa or New Hampshire. Mayor Peter’s doing so well in both early states is a significant achievement.
Amy Klobuchar stunned everyone by coming in a strong 3rd place. Sanders, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar can all claim victory and head for Nevada. But the road ahead looks bumpy for Democrats in general.
Biden and Warren crash and burn in crushing defeat
Elizabeth Warren crashed and burned with 9% of the vote. It is hard to see how she continues much longer. She has a huge grassroots fundraising base so she could go forward through Super Tuesday, but the bottom has dropped out of her candidacy.
What good is it to come in 4th and 5th in the next 10 contests.
Joe Biden had an unmitigated disaster, getting 8% of the vote.
He is tumbling in the polls in South Carolina, running out of money, and his rationale for continuing has evaporated. Its frankly embarrassing to watch him in public and has become a sad spectacle. His family is going to have to come to their senses soon and intervene.
Mike Bloomberg: The $50 billion dollar man
Looming over all of this is Mike Bloomberg, the $50 billion dollar man. Bloomberg is hoping to swoop in on Super Tuesday (3/3/20) and win enough delegates to assume the mantle of the front runner. He has spent $300 million dollars thus far and we can expect him to spend $400 million more by Super Tuesday.
But Mike Bloomberg may find that his newfound parties nomination is not up for sale. Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump three to one in 2016 and lost. Bloomberg is rising in the polls and has hired a plethora of staff, but his appeal is decidedly unproven.
Bloomberg thinks he can buy the nomination
Carpet bombing the airwaves with ads, Bloomberg is ubiquitous. But then so is Tom Steyer and it doesn’t seem to be helping him much. The latest “Stop and Frisk” controversy revival reminds Democrats that Bloomberg is racially insensitive.
The other candidates aren’t going to give Bloomberg a pass either. He faces withering fire at the next two televised debates that he is now included in. The idea of two billionaires, Bloomberg and Steyer, buying their way into the process is unsettling to most Americans.
Much less for a Democrat Party veering towards radical socialism.
Its Bernie Sanders nomination to lose
Sanders is in the driver’s seat. He has money, organization, and staying power. With Warren’s collapse, Sanders starts with about a 30% base in the upcoming contests.
Buttigieg has a strong fundraising base and will be increasingly competitive. He seizes the fresh face newcomer slot with a now demonstrated appeal. His win in Iowa and strong 2nd place in New Hampshire has left most of the rest of the field in the rearview mirror.
But 24% of the vote is not going to get anyone the nomination.
Klobuchar has tough sledding ahead
Klobuchar is going to have a rough time ramping up enough in Nevada and South Carolina to be competitive. She needs to raise money, and count on the same appeal that shifted towards her among late deciders in New Hampshire as Biden and Warren collapsed.
Nevada is a caucus, so that works against Klobuchar in terms of lack of organization. She is woefully behind in South Carolina. Super Tuesday is right around the corner. Klobuchar would need wins in Nevada and South Carolina to raise enough resources to compete.
New Hampshire may well have been Amy Klobuchar’s high water mark, but she is in until Super Tuesday at least.
The problem: Splitting the moderate vote 3 ways
The problem is that Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg are going to split the moderate vote. Again and again. Sanders may win California, Texas and the other big prizes on Super Tuesday with 25 – 30 % of the vote.
Bloomberg may end up preventing consolidation by pulling votes away from Buttigieg and Klobuchar. He is a completely unproven commodity. But Bloomberg is poor on the stump, and not great in debates. What if Bloomberg only polls 12%.
A split field will only benefit Sanders to the dismay of Democrat leaders.
When Joe Biden drops out … or does he?
The other question is when does Joe Biden drop out of the race? It is conceivable that he stays in through Super Tuesday, believing that his broad appeal will give him some victories in a crowded field. He is relying heavily on support from African-American voters.
Except its clear now, Biden doesn’t have any broad appeal.
The most Biden can hope for is being yet another split in the moderate vote. If Biden stays in until Super Tuesday it almost guarantees a Sanders victory.
Even if Bloomberg wins 20%, switching places with Amy Klobuchar behind Pete Buttigieg, it doesn’t translate into a winning strategy. As the contest stands now the most likely outcome is a Sanders nomination or a deadlocked convention.
The mathematics of convention delegates
The fantasy of a brokered convention is unlikely but has more of a chance this year than any other in our lifetime. A candidate needs a threshold of 15% of the vote to qualify for delegates in any given state. The difference between the number of delegates received for 25% of the vote is not much different than 20%.
In New Hampshire, Bernie won the popular vote, but he and Buttigieg earned the same number delegates. In Iowa, Bernie won the popular vote however, he won two fewer delegates than Buttigieg because of the vagaries of the caucus system.
It takes 1991 delegate votes to win the Democrat nomination in July. By the end of March 90% of all delegates will be chosen.
However, what happens in the next three weeks will largely determine who gets the nomination.
We will know a lot more in three weeks
It all comes down to two pronounced factors. Will Bloomberg be able to gather votes and delegates. Or will he be splitting the vote as Bernie Sanders wins pluralities in state after state.
In Nevada, there is an additional factor that Tom Steyer, of all people, has a significant operation that has seemingly gained some traction on the ground. You also have a disruptive negative commentary about the caucus system itself. And the possibility of protracted Iowa style debacle in counting the results.
Bernie Sanders: Amerca’s Jeremy Corbyn
In the end, the Democrat party will either coming to grips with Bernie Sanders as its nominee, or they will bust the party in half in their efforts to thwart him. The looming shadow of superdelegates and a hostile DNC cast to mind eerie reminders of what happened to Sanders in 2016.
If Bernie gets shafted then his people will walk in the fall of 2020, or vote for Trump. If he wins the Democrat Party stands to go down to a defeat of epic proportions.
Bernie Sanders will be Jeremy Corbyn on steroids, and Donald Trump will be reelected overwhelmingly. Trump will bring the House of Representatives along with him. It will shatter the Democrat Party the way Boris Johnson’s victory has decimated the Labor party in the UK, and relegate Nancy Pelosi to the dustbin of history.
Democrats face a bleak future. Either a crippled party that is hopelessly split, or a surging candidate of its radical base who can’t possibly win. Its a Faustian bargain that may soon be inevitable. It will certainly be fun to watch.