With Iowa receding in the metaphorical rearview mirror, the political stage moves to New Hampshire … and New Expectations…. (More)
In the Democratic primary race, Bernie Sanders currently has an 18-point lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and FiveThirtyEight gives him a 91% win probability. And make no mistake: that must hold for Sanders to remain a viable contender.
After a razor-thin loss in Iowa – and no, he didn’t lose by coin-flips – Sanders moves to one of only two states in the nation with more white liberals than Iowa. (The other is his neighboring home state of Vermont.)
Sanders’ problem, simply, is that Iowa showcased his very narrow base of support, as The People’s View’s Spandan Chakrabarti wrote yesterday:
Iowa did not broaden Bernie Sanders’ narrow appeal. It confirmed it. Sanders’ support is intense but narrow, and he remains incapable of building the type of broad coalition Barack Obama did in 2008. Sanders is stuck with adoring support among largely white and male populations – typically a strength of the Republicans whereas the only majority in the Democratic party is formed by women. Sanders’ support is intense among white-privileged college students, who, well-intentioned as they may be, lack the experiences that force black and brown kids to grow up quickly and either avoid or are largely unaware of the full scale of work it takes to actually make progress towards the political goals they espouse.
Sanders must win New Hampshire – and by double digits – or “Feel the Bern” will sound like the desperate plea of a bunch of white college guys who can’t light a barbeque grill, let alone a political bonfire.
Similarly, New Hampshire is a must-win for Donald Trump. Current polls show him with a 22-point lead over Ted Cruz and a 24-point lead over Marco Rubio, and FiveThirtyEight has him a 58% favorite to win next week.
Losing sucks for any candidate. But it has particular resonance for Trump, who has put his ability to win – at life – at the heart of his campaign. The entire conceit of Trump’s front-running campaign has been that America doesn’t win at things anymore because we have the wrong people leading our country. Elect someone who is an expert at winning, Trump argues, and the country will turn itself around.
Here’s the key thing to know about winners: They win.
By not winning in Iowa – despite virtually every poll conducted in the final 10 days of the race showing him as ahead – the Trump balloon has sprung a leak.
A recent Fox News poll found that GOP voters want a “strong leader” who’s “willing to tell it like it is.” Trump has declared himself to be that Strong Man, a “winner” (he says) who will savage anyone that dares to cross him. And he skipped the last Fox News debate in Iowa to demonstrate his Strong Man persona.
In psychological terms, Trump’s appeal is grounded in bandwagoning, where people feel it’s better to ally with a Strong Man than to face his wrath. It’s the kind of ‘loyalty’ on which mobsters rely …
… but that only works if the Strong Man looks unbeatable. Trump has now lost, despite polls that showed him leading. The Strong Man wasn’t unbeatable after all.
The Clinton campaign are already cueing up a list of his business flops. Don’t be surprised if Trump’s rival WHannabes bring up those same failures over the next few days. If so, and if the media pile on with the gleeful, overwhelming focus they used to pump Trump up …
… his Strong Man charade will collapse completely, and most of his supporters will soon deny they ever backed him.
Those are the stakes next week in New Hampshire, in a nutshell. Because I like things that come in nutshells….
Photo Credit: Manchester Union-Leader
Good day and good nuts