With the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primaries in under a month, the Democratic Primary has gotten tighter and things are beginning to heat up. Clinton had been leading while Sanders had a lead in ew Hampshire, but now the polls have tightened up significantly. Sanders still leads in the Granite State but the polls in Iowa have tightened significantly to the point that a Sanders win in the first two contests is a possibility.
This tightening of the polls has many factors, the first of which is that the candidates have spent a lot more time in the first two states, so voters have had more exposure to the candidates and some people’s minds have been made up or changed. This means that Sanders, who had a built in advantage in New Hampshire due to him being senator in Vermont, a neighboring state, has also built a strong enough coalition in Iowa to challenge the Clinton juggernaut.
Iowa is of most interest since this is the state where Sanders has been able to tighten up the race and threaten a win in the first two electoral contests. Iowa is the first state to vote and is s caucus state. Caucuses need more excitement and energy on behalf of the candidates base because while a primary election requires you to find a polling place and vote, a caucus requires at east a couple hours to fully caucus and ensure the candidates support is counted.
Another issue could very well be guns. The President and Secretary Clinton are fervently on a a gun safety and regulation path; a path Sanders has been more reluctant to follow. Whatever you think about gun control (I tend to agree with the President and Secretary) Iowa and New Hampshire are more rural and less metropolitan and thus the notion go gun control doesn’t always play as well in these states as it would in others. While I don’t feel that the proposals made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton are extreme or go too far, the voters and caucus goers in the first two states ma well think so.
Another key factor is demographics. While Clinton has a firm lead in the polls amongst African-Americans and Hispanic voters, these demographics are not as prevalent and therefore have a lesser impact in Iowa and New Hampshire. Instead, Sanders coalition of predominantly white liberals, young people and the disaffected are a more prevalent base in these crucial first states.
More time, an energetic base, the issue of guns and demographics may well spell victory for Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders has tightened the polls and in Iowa his high energy base may well pull him through to a victory. Secretary Clinton is not necessarily helped by her stance on guns and her key support with the African-American and Hispanic constituents may not serve her well until After New Hampshire. The factors are aligning for a Sanders victory in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Clinton would do well to watch out for that, especially since he can nearly match her on fundraising.
The only time that a candidate has lost both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and gone on to win the nomination was in 1992, which deserves a huge caveat since the popular Senator Harkin from Iowa took his home state. Should Sanders sweep the first two electoral contests, Secretary Clinton will be in uncharted territory; seeking to claw her way back into an historic victory. Should the momentum continue to bear out, then the Democratic party will be faced with an interesting dilemma. Namely, is the party really ready for a political outsider (in temperament) and a democratic socialist? And is this candidate the candidate that can and will take on Donald Trump should he make it through the primaries?
Much has yet to be decided and there remains the possibility that this becomes just a hypothetical. But it is a hypothetical that is for the first time more possible than probable. A Sanders sweep could very well end the long and storied career of Hillary Clinton and could put a socialist in the White House.