Is Rubio the One to Watch?

A number of pundits and journalists have declared Marco Rubio the official winner in the Iowa Caucus – not because he came in first, but because he came in third, only one point off of Trump.

I tend to agree with this analysis. This was a major step forward for the Rubio campaign and he is, in my estimation, in a good position to do well moving forward.

Here are the facts so far. Cruz obviously won Iowa and pulled in 8 delegates compared to 7 each for Trump and Rubio according to RealClearPolitics. Iowa is not, however, about winning delegates. It’s about momentum.

Rubio’s best news of the night was that he won 30% of the undecided voters, according to a Fox News report, compared with 25% for Cruz with Trump far behind that. It means that Rubio’s message is resonating in a state he didn’t expect to do so well in. The Iowan Republican Caucus is known for their Christian conservative bent. This can easily be seen in 2008 when Mike Huckabee won Iowa and in 2012 when Rick Santorum won it. Cruz’s large ground game and conservative message ultimately won in Iowa, which completely makes sense.

New Hampshire and beyond will be a different story. Rubio’s articulate, more moderate message might just be his calling card to reach large numbers of voters who could sour on Trump or at least see in Rubio an alternative which could be a formidable challenger to whoever receives the Democratic nomination.

Cruz, of course, has strong momentum and not to mention bragging rights, but it will be interesting to see how his message will play out in less conservative strongholds.

I’m very curious to see where Rubio will end up in New Hampshire. Trump currently commands a huge 22 point lead in the polls in the Granite State, but will Cruz rise from his Iowan victory or will Rubio make an impression? ¬†Fun times lay ahead. From here on out, it looks to be a three man race.

On the Democratic side, Sanders did well in Iowa and figures to win New Hampshire easily. However, that could end his run as the southern states and the Super Tuesday primary coming early next month will see Clinton’s base in full form and, barring any unseen circumstances, will likely overrun Sander’s camp by that time.

But stranger things have happened.

Iowa: It’s Finally Here. Let’s Get This Thing Over With!

As the Iowa caucus kicks off the primary season for the US 2016 presidential election, it is, perhaps, a good time for the people to breathe and realize that the end is in sight – even if ten grueling months into the future!

Hasn’t this already felt like the longest presidential campaign in history, even before one vote is cast?

Wow! Enough of Trump and Sanders already! Enough of John Kasich and, is anyone even paying any attention to Hillary Clinton other than the FBI?

I live 12,000 miles away from all the fun, so luckily I’m spared all of the presidential TV ads, radio spots, and cold calling. I don’t know if I could handle it all.

So the caucus will be the first step in determining which direction the fields will finally be taking. Do you think Martin O’Malley will finally drop out? And Rick Santorum? He was complaining the other day that Fox News hasn’t paid any attention to him. Well, has anyone? (Except the restaurant where my sister works that catered his launch party back in ’15.)

I feel like I should be talking to grandpa on the front porch somewhere:

Me: Grandpa, what was it like back in ’15 when all sixteen Republican candidates launched their campaigns.

Grandpa: Well, Sonny. Back in those days anybody could declare their candidacy as long as they were born in America, or Canada, or as long as they had at least three supporters.

That’s how long this thing feels!

Maybe it’s just me.

But in case I’ve given you the wrong impression, I live for this stuff. I love the debates and the jabs. I love the out of nowhere candidacies. I love seeing the Democratic party squirm at the thought of a Sanders campaign. I love seeing the Republican party squirm at the thought of a Trump campaign.

I love seeing the media …

No, actually, I don’t.

But when it comes to politics, I am the proverbial glutton for punishment.

So here’s to one of the most painful years ever!

Trump, Sanders, Carson all Signify the Same Thing (sort of)

I love talking politics. Rarely do so on this blog because the last thing I want is for this blog to devolve into some sort of political debate forum. We’ve all seen the vicious comments which are endemic. I really hate that kind of discourse. It’s both unproductive and uncivilized, yet fully protected by the first amendment. (I support that part of rowdy forums!)

But I will, from time to time, offer a little analysis of what I see going on, and this U.S. election cycle is setting itself up to be some kind of interesting! Both sides of the aisle are bracing themselves for epic mudslinging. We all know the dirty nature of politics, but this is on a collision course for a new level of nasty. Should be really fun!

What I have found fascinating are the people who don’t understand why Trump is getting so much traction. Really? It’s not so hard to understand.

And Bernie Sanders, cranking in the early buzz on the Democratic side is also not surprising. Does anyone actually think that Hillary Clinton has put any real effort into her campaign so far? I mean, really. Lackluster is perhaps too nice. And as she is now being dogged by email server questions with the FBI getting involved, Sanders just keeps on climbing.

Even renowned John Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson seems to be hitting his stride after the first Republican debate. He’s been having to upgrade the speaking venues as his crowds are continually growing.

So why are these three making their marks on early in the presidential race? Simple. They all have an anti-Washington, outsider message that is resonating. The electorate (at least at this time) is clearly sick of the standard political rhetoric.

Of course, outside voices are nothing new in politics. Americans have elected a wide variety of individuals who spoke differently than the entrenched politicians. That’s how Ross Perot garnered nineteen million votes in 1992. Jessie Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger rode their name recognition and thin political resumes to victory in gubernatorial races in Minnesota and California respectively. Even established politicians who have fashioned themselves as Washington outsiders used their fresh-sounding voices to presidential victory. Governors Carter, Reagan, and Clinton all come to mind.

With Congressional approval ratings at perennially low levels, and a country which seems even more divided during the Obama era, many people are just fed-up.

And so when Trump spouts off his mouth in a decidedly unpolitical way and a most politically-incorrect way, many people applaud. Trump is also unique because he’s like a circus show all to himself. He sucks the air out of the room, and people can’t seem to take their eyes off of him (whether they think he’s loathsome or not). It’s difficult to say whether the Trump phenomenon will have lasting power. Conventional political wisdom would say not.

Sanders is in a different category than Trump. Sanders, of course, has been the long serving independent Senator from Vermont. As a self-described democratic socialist, his message would seem out of place in almost all American political cycles except this one. His agenda is large and stark: take on the big banks, drastically raise taxes on the rich, slash corporate profits. It’s a type of populist socialism that appeals to the folks who think they’ve had a raw deal in the face of a large class of wealthy executives who seem disconnected and uncaring. His is a promise of big government (massive, really) and what we might call equity of outcome. It’s classic western European, big-state socialism. It’s the kind of message which seems counter to the rugged individualism which America has long been known for. But his message is resonating, and it will be interesting to see if he can pick up steam. (He certainly may if Clinton continues to stumble.) Conventional political wisdom says that Sanders has no chance to become the president of the United States. Anyway you slice it, the word “socialism” doesn’t play well in the American heartland. But one never knows.

Carson is fast becoming a folk hero for the conservative wing of the Republican party. His logical, faith-based rhetoric is a refreshing break for many people from the political speak typically coming out of Washington. Him being a brilliant surgeon doesn’t hurt on the respect scale, either. He has a legitimate outsider claim that few in the race can match, and he’ll be able to ride that for quite sometime. How far and how long remains to be seen.

Looking at the race at this early date, it’s difficult for me to see a run of the mill Clinton-Bush battle. It seems that America is ready for a new voice, and this race certainly has its share of them. Clinton has been the presumptive nominee for the Democratic party for so long that I think many people have trouble seeing what may lie beyond her. She may indeed prevail, or we could have a Democratic surprise. The Republican side may too, at some point, gravitate back to its core political base and choose a more established politician. But I must say, wouldn’t a Trump – Sanders battle be entertaining?

Whatever happens, it’s clear that the electorate is ornery, and the billion dollar campaign season has hardly even begun.