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Iowa Democrat Primaries: Analysis

 By Shlomo Maital

    Living in Israel, I rightly question whether the Iowa Democrat caucus for Presidential candidates, the first of its kind in this election year,  is truly relevant for my country and the rest of the world outside the US.

   It is! Here is why.

   First the results. (71% of ballot counted).

candidate votes % of total But – other
Buttigieg 418.722 0.268099
Sanders 393.521 0.251963 25.201
Warren 286.882 0.183684 131.84
Biden 241.314 0.154508 177.408
Klobuchar 196.696 0.12594 222.026

 

   Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttegieg, who just turned 38 on Jan. 19, and who served in the US Navy for 8 years, has won, with 71% of the ballots counted.

     (Why 71%? Because Democrat caucus officials embraced a smartphone application that was totally flawed and untested – several dress rehearsals would have revealed the flaws, and the backup, phone-in, with 1,700 primary sites calling in at once, crashed the phone system, expectedly. Republicans may rightly ask, if the Democrats can’t run a small primary election in Iowa, how can we expect them to run the country?)

       Don’t underestimate Mayor Pete. Here is why. In 2008, of eight major Democratic presidential candidates, then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois received the most votes and was ultimately declared the winner. Aged 47, he was the first African American to win the caucus. Obama went on to become President.

     Buttegieg is a mainstream centrist candidate. The second-place candidate, 78-year-old Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator, was only 25,000 votes behind Mayor Pete. Sanders is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, (declared Independent) on the left of the party. He ignites the energy and support of young people, amazingly. He will be a powerful force in the Democrat Convention in Milwaukee, representing the party’s left wing.

     Senator Elizabeth Warren was 131,840 votes behind Mayor Pete, a major defeat, despite her campaign funds and strong on-the-ground operation in Iowa. The third-place finish bodes ill for her campaign.   She lacks the fiery youth of Mayor Pete, and the youthful support of Bernie.

       Senator Amy Klobuchar got fewer than half the votes of Mayor Pete. She is a strong centrist candidate, with proven legislative abilities, but her poor showing in Iowa makes her a dark horse. It’s too bad.

       Republicans gloat at the chaos in the Democrat primaries, and the upcoming debate will again feature a stage full of candidates, attacking one another rather than President Trump. Meanwhile, I’ve just listened to Trump’s State of the Union speech, carefully orchestrated for a huge TV audience of some 50 million. He will be a formidable candidate in November, because his focus is solely on being re-elected, and his frequent election rallies of his supporters are, I believe, unprecedented for a busy sitting President.

       Joe Biden finished fourth. His showing was very weak. He may do poorly in New Hampshire as well, the next primary. So far he has not shown any ability to ignite excitement among the field of candidates. His main claim, that only he can defeat Trump, seems increasingly doubtful.

       Buttegieg is gay, and his partner was onstage with him when he declared victory. Democratic Iowa voters showed intelligence, in voting for whom they saw as the best candidate, regardless of his orientation, and even though Iowa is in general a state of deeply religious people.  Buttegieg will become a force in national politics, no matter what happens in the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee, and has a big future in national politics.

         Another four years of a Trump Presidency will mean almost irreversible damage to the global economy, to civil society in the US, and, in my neck of the woods, to Mideast peace efforts. The so-called Deal of the Century for the Mideast has already ignited protests and conflicts, lighting a match to what is already a tinderbox.

   Buttegieg’s win signals that voters seek new youth and energy. The Democrats may provide it yet, as they did in 2008 with Obama. A whole lot depends on it, not just for America but for the world.

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
May 2020
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