Thoughts of Iowa

Well, the Iowa Caucuses have come and gone and with it the battle for both the Republican and Democratic Party nominations for president are in full swing.

First, let’s focus on the more crowded field, the GOP.  Here are the results of candidates who picked up at least one delegate:

Candidate          Votes      Percentage    Delegates

Ted Cruz             51,666    28%                8

Donald Trump   45,427   24%                7

Marco Rubio      43,165    23%                7

Ben Carson         17,395    9%                  3

Rand Paul           8,481      4%                  1

Jeb Bush             5,238      3%                  1

Photo from Ted Cruz's Facebook page
Photo from Ted Cruz’s Facebook page

Going into the final days, it looked as if Iowa would be a contest between Cruz, Rubio, and Trump and that’s exactly what happened.  Although Ted Cruz captured the most votes and delegates and thus is deemed the current front-runner, only one delegate separates the three candidates.  Therefore, one could make the argument that all three of these candidates had a good night.  Ben Carson, the once rising star with amazing amounts of cash was outclassed.  Rand Paul’s campaign, who boasted of having a thousand precinct captains and having made a million phone calls finished with very disappointing numbers.  Jeb, once the establishment favorite, has seemed to have lost a lot of steam.  Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, the 2012 and 2008 winners of Iowa, were little more than a blip on the radar.  And both you and I were only thirteen votes away from beating former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, and we weren’t even candidates and the ballot!  As a result of Iowa, Mike Huckabee has ended his campaign.

Before the results were announced, I posted this message on Facebook.  “However Iowa turns out tomorrow, I encourage you not to read too much into it. After all the GOP winner in 2012 was Rick Santorum and the 2008 winner was Mike Huckabee.  As John Sununu said, ‘The people of Iowa pick corn, the people of New Hampshire pick presidents’.”  In recent elections Iowa has typically gone for the Republican candidate with the best ground game who also most appeals to social conservatives.  Therefore Cruz’s victory shouldn’t be all that surprising.  Trump was likely buoyed by the endorsement of the head of Liberty University, but reports indicate that he didn’t have much of a presence in Iowa in terms of staff, phone calling, door knocking, and other traditional campaign apparatus.  And Rubio is starting to solidify the Republican establishment base behind him after besting Bush and Kasich.

Interestingly, according to CNN, when it comes to education, Trump won a plurality of the least well educated, while Cruz did best with those with some college, and Rubio won with college graduates and postgraduates.  The Paul results were terribly disappointing for many liberty folks.  After all, in 2008 Ron Paul received 11841 votes in the Iowa Caucus or 9.93% and in 2012 Ron Paul received 26035 votes in the Iowa Caucus or 21.43%.  Although there were more candidates in 2016 than either 2008 or 2012, the Rand Paul campaign gambled heavily in Iowa and fared poorly.

Switching over to the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were neck and neck with Martin O’Malley being little more than an afterthought.

Candidate              Percentage    Delegates

Hillary Clinton     50                    26

Bernie Sanders     50                    21

Martin O’Malley   0                      0

Photo from Hillary Clinton's Facebook page
Photo from Hillary Clinton’s Facebook page

Both Clinton and Sanders finished with about 50% of the vote.  However, Clinton received 26 delegates and Sanders got 21 due to a series of six coin flips as a result of ties at several polling places, all of which Clinton won.  As a result of Iowa, O’Malley has ended his campaign.

Again, according to CNN, Sanders was very popular among the younger voters and the poorer voters, while Clinton shined with the older and richer crowds.  Curiously while Clinton won the married vote, Sanders picked up the singles, divorced, and widowed.  While Cruz and Clinton fared the best among people who had previously attended a caucus, Sanders and Trump did the best with first time voters.

Although Iowa is an early and important contest, it primarily serves to winnow the field as it has done eliminating Huckabee and O’Malley.  It’s far too early to declare either Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton the nominee of their respective parties.  It should be interesting to see what New Hampshire brings next.

Thoughts Of The Democratic Debate

Image from CNN
Image from CNN

Last night, the Democratic Party held their first presidential debate.  Aired on CNN, the event lasted about two hours.  The five participants were: former Virginia US Senator Jim Webb, Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders, former First Lady, former New York US Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island US Senator and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Some of the Democrats gathered at a local brewery in Harrisonburg to watch the debate.  Although I didn’t watch it live, I thought it would be useful to see it in its entirety and not merely snippets in order to be informed.

Here are my my thoughts:

I was very unimpressed by the front-runner, Hillary Clinton.  It is quite possible that she articulated some point on which she and I agreed, but, if so, I do not remember it.  Her declaration that she is running to be the first woman president sounded like needless pandering.  Yes, there is nothing wrong with a female president, but voting for a candidate strictly based upon gender is as foolish and myopic as voting for a candidate based upon race.  She repeatedly attacked the Republicans without offering specifics sounded like nothing more than an effort to score cheap points with the Democratic audience.  In addition, she used far more generalities than anyone else.  Even though she has the highest name ID, based upon her performance in the first debate, she would be my least desirable choice.

Likewise, Martin O’Malley failed to wow me at all, more or less sticking to traditional Democratic talking points.  However, he did make a good comparison in his closing statement about the difference between the Republican and Democratic debates thus far.

There was a time or two that I agreed Lincoln Chafee, especially when it came to foreign policy, but his defense of several of his early votes was pathetic; his excuse that he had just gotten into office sounded like he had no idea what he was doing and shouldn’t have run in the first place.  I didn’t care much for him when he was a liberal Republican and not much has changed.

I was glad to hear Senator Sanders standing up for our civil liberties against the overreaching power of the federal government when it came to matters of the NSA and the Patriot Act, as well as his arguments for a more reasonable foreign policy.  However, pushing for a domestic policy that advocates so much “free” stuff and raising the minimum wage indicated to me that he doesn’t have a sound understanding of economics and the free market.  College degrees for all, especially those who don’t even want one, makes them almost effectively worthless.

Lastly, although I didn’t agree with quite a lot Jim Webb said, I appreciated his views on foreign policy, gun rights, and trying to stand up for all citizens, regardless of the colour of their skin.  He may have not gotten the most time, but from a liberty perspective, he sounded like the best Democratic choice at this point.

Therefore, based solely upon this debate, I would presently rate the candidates as follows:  Webb, Sanders, Chafee, O’Malley, and Clinton at the bottom.  Assuming I didn’t vote in the Republican primary, which I am planning to do based, of course, upon who is in the race and who is leading, I would consider voting for Webb in the Democratic primary.  After all, I voted for Webb in the 2006 Virginia Democratic primary for U.S. Senate (but not in the general election) as I felt he was the best option in that race.

Nevertheless, I encourage you to watch the debate and decide for yourself.