Prediction – Iowa Winners Will Be: Cruz and Sanders

The big day is finally here.

Iowa again marks the beginning of a new beginning (as President Obama cannot run for office again) and with that, Americans will be subjected to an exhaustive gauntlet of campaign ads, calls, and donation requests.  Iowa also marks the point when we, as Americans, start to get some real data about who the next leader of our country will be.

Prior to actually voting for someone, all we have had to go on are the polls conducted by research groups and media organizations.  While these polls give some insight into the general state of mind of American voters, we have also seen that one debate performance can launch a candidate into a leading position for a time being.

This is especially true with the leaderless Republican party.  Through the summer and fall, Republican voters have acted like middle-school children trying to figure out who they wanted to date.  First it was Bush, then Fiorina, then Carson, and now Cruz (all while maintaining a huge crush on Donald Trump).  None of these “picks” lasted longer than a a few months as the spotlight tends to reveal the truth and subsequently forcing those candidates back down the charts.

So who will win in Iowa?

For the Republicans, the winner with be Senator Ted Cruz.  Looking at maps of previous caucuses in the state, it becomes obvious that Iowans love both Evangelical and Libertarian leaning candidates.  Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, being the best examples.  Cruz represents both to some extent and is also currently tied with Donald Trump in the national polls, lending to votes by name recognition.  Second place will go to Donald Trump and third place will go to Ben Carson, who remains very popular with the very religious.

For the Democrats the race is less a race and more a head-to-head competition.  Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders going into today’s caucus (though the difference is close to margin of error).  Sanders, though, has a message that has been building quite dramatically over the past 6 months and strong support from millennial voters.  If (and here we are assuming they will) those millennial voters turn out, Sanders will narrowly win Iowa.

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Digging In: Gov. Christie can Debate, but is there a Story?

Gov. Christie was once touted as the next great Republican.  He had a way with words, was not afraid to challenge unions, and brought the center-right views that many potential voters were looking for.  2010 was a long, long time ago though and the Governor’s potential to be a GOP front-runner seems to be just a dream.  The Governor has posted dismal approval numbers in New Jersey and was wrapped up in a bridge closure controversy that deteriorated his value in the eyes of the Republican Party.

At Thursday night’s debate in Cleveland, Gov. Christie sparred with the other candidates and responded to the moderator’s questions with a level of clarity that is representative of a seasoned politician.  Though his track record in NJ was brought up, the Governor played off the facts by noting “you should have seen it when I got here.”  A truly political answer, but delivered with a believable confidence.

Gov. Christie’s debating with Sen. Paul proved to be one of the better back-and-forth exchanges of the night.  Christie invoked 9/11 to draw from the deep emotion of those attacks when defending his position on the NSA (Supporting expanded powers) vs. Sen. Paul’s position that the NSA ought to be defended and disbanded.  Gov. Christie took the point in this exchange when he called out Sen. Paul’s statement “that we should expand monitoring of terrorists, not every day people.”  The technical implementation of such a strategy likely would not be possible, so Gov. Christie’s challenge to that position was both warranted and deftly executed.

Unfortunately for the Governor, New Jersey is not a shining star to point to.  The state has been mired in in-fighting and stuck toward the bottom of many rankings.  He has been in a constant dogfight with the Democratic Legislature that has pitted him against the powerful NJ teacher’s unions.  While budget-hawk Republicans will appreciate his use of the line-item veto, those that see the cuts to education are less likely to be impressed.

Outside of the bridgegate scandal, Christie’s attempts to reform public pensions in the state have been the cause of many NJ residents outrage.  Since arriving in office, the Governor has attempted to build and implement a plan to address the state’s unfunded pension liabilities.  His administration’s attempts have enraged the teachers unions, put pressure on local governments, and attempted to raise property taxes on individual households.  None of these attempts have resulted in praise from the public or a pension program that could be declared “fixed.”

Without success in NJ to highlight, the Governor will be a bard without a song.  Democratic strategists will have a field day with the issues plaguing the Governor’s tenure in New Jersey much like the Republican Party is going to be able to draw from a deep pool of issues and scandal in Hillary Clinton’s past.  For that reason alone it is hard to see Gov. Christie as the Republican nominee for the Presidency.

Gov. Christie was once the rising star in the Republican Party.  A deeper look indicates that his window may have already been shut.

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Bernie Sanders Speech Stopped by Protesters

In Seattle, a planned speech by Bernie Sanders was disrupted by protesters from the #BlackLivesMatter organization.  Fortunately for all parties involved there was no violence initiated by either side, but for the Sanders campaign, this disruption must be extremely frustrating.

Senator Sanders has regularly positioned himself as a champion of social issues and reform – even organizing a sit-in as a student in college to protest segregation in campus housing.

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Not all was lost for Sen. Sanders’ west coast trip.  Later in the day, the Senator spoke to a crowd of 12,000 at the University of Washington where he addressed the earlier rally issues:

No president will fight harder to end institutional racism and reform [the] criminal justice system.  Too many lives have been destroyed by war on drugs, by incarceration; we need to educate people. We need to put people to work.

The Senator from Vermont has shown an incredible level of consistency throughout his campaign with clear, direct messaging detailing his vision for America.  The progressive-liberal agenda has resonated with millennial voters at a similar level to the support enjoyed by Libertarian-Republican Ron Paul in the 2012 and 2008 elections.

Even if this support is not sufficient enough to secure the Democratic nomination, Sen. Sanders has already shown that a Clinton campaign will not merely be a coronation.

Sen. Sanders will be speaking in Portland, OR and Los Angeles, CA to round out his west coast trip.

 

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