Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The (Democrats') Road to Nowhere

Friends, I promised you a riveting analysis of the contest for the Democratic nomination, especially in the wake of the Iowa muddle, and here it is!  I conclude, not surprisingly, that the only true winner coming out of Iowa has to be -- you guessed it -- Donald John Trump.  Total score for the 2020 elections, therefore: Trump 2, Democrats -1.  A good start!

Trump Wins a Double Victory in the Iowa Caucuses

The results of the Iowa Caucuses were, on the Republican side, predictable: President Trump won overwhelming support from his GOP base. He received over 97% of the vote. A surer sign of the unanimity of Republicans heading into the 2020 election would be hard to imagine, especially given the high hopes Democrats had harbored for impeachment. The anticipated crackup of the Republican Party, along Trumpian fault lines, just never materialized. Never mind — some Democrats, gluttons for punishment, are already talking about impeaching the President again.

On the Democratic side, the results could hardly have been better — for Republicans. First, Iowa Democrats proved themselves incapable of running an election in the first place. It took them almost a day to tabulate even partial results. As a consequence, the candidates who appeared to be falling short, especially Joe Biden, immediately began casting into doubt the integrity and reliability of the election. Even the prospective winners, however, had reason to grumble, since their precious momentum had been stolen by the Democratic establishment's fumbling. Or was it fumbling? Could the extraordinary inefficiency in reporting results have been a ploy to shield Sleepy Joe from the consequences of his anemic performance? Rumors are swirling in Democratic circles, and tempers are fraying. The prospects for ugliness in the weeks ahead have never been greater.

Meanwhile, the horse race itself has become, if anything, even more muddled. Sanders did well in Iowa, as expected, but so did Elizabeth Warren, bringing her campaign back from the dead. Ergo, the “progressive lane” in the Democratic Party has not yet resolved itself into a Sanders lane, and that makes it problematic for Bernie to build up a head of steam heading into Nevada, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday.

Among the “moderates” running for President, Joe Biden flubbed in Iowa. While some polls predicted he would win, he actually finished fourth — and came perilously close to fifth place. For a national front-runner, this is a humiliation, although Biden put a brave face on it Monday night. (Brave — or oblivious?)

Pete Buttigieg can credibly claim to have won the Iowa Caucuses, and he certainly outperformed expectations. The latter can also be said of Amy Klobuchar, who ran neck-and-neck with Vice-President Biden and breathed new life into her campaign. 

The problem for Mayor Pete and Senator Klobuchar, however, is that neither is showing much strength in national polls, and neither is well positioned to win any of the upcoming contests. It's hard to see, therefore, how the “moderate lane” will narrow to a single candidate anytime soon. That gives the progressives — Sanders and Warren — room to hope.

The good news for Democrats, therefore, is that their massive field of two dozen candidates has effectively been winnowed down to just five (or six, if you count Mike Bloomberg).

The bad news, however, is far more compelling. None of the remaining viable candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are anywhere close to sealing the deal. All of them possess serious flaws, and most of them are repugnant to a sizable portion of the Democratic electorate. 

Moreover, the process by which the Democratic nominee will be chosen is increasingly fraught with complications, causing doubt among many voters and activists about the integrity and fairness of the contest. Consequently, the vast potential for mutual recrimination and ideological fractures among Democrats has only begun to be realized. The bad old days of the Clinton-Sanders slugfest in 2016 may look mild when all is said and done in 2020. 

Nor can we exclude the possibility that none of the current Democratic candidates for president will receive a majority of the pledged delegates at the Democratic convention. A brokered convention, and thus a protracted, bitter battle over the nomination, could ensue.

In short, the Democratic race for president is in a chaotic state, and hostility between the candidates, and between the different factions in the party, seems to be steadily on the rise. It is hard to conclude, in this environment, that any Democrat coming out of Iowa can be accurately described as a “winner”.

President Trump and Republicans, on the other hand, have never been stronger, in terms of organization, financing, and polling. They have survived the impeachment maelstrom and look set to sail majestically into calmer waters, just at the moment when Democrats are on the brink of a veritable civil war. Since politics is a zero-sum game, the challenges now faced by Democrats can only be regarded as opportunities, even as gifts, to the GOP.

In 2016, some analysts observed that only Hillary Clinton, a deeply flawed candidate, could have lost to Donald Trump, whose unfavorable ratings were in record high territory. 

In 2020, Trump's luck may be holding. Despite his consistently high disapproval numbers, he may be a cinch for re-election — simply because the Democrats are beating themselves.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears weekly on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480.

And here it is at Townhall:


  1. Dr. Waddy: Your article helped me to see this situation more clearly and in a light encouraging for those of our convictions. The issue in this election is so simple: reelect President Trump and the American left will fall into juvenile petulance and recklessness as it realizes its cuckooing of the Dem party was its undoing. Its subsequent precipitant and emotional leap off the political cliff will be spectacular. Elect ANY Dem ANY Dem, including those disingenuously portraying themselves as "unifiers" (Buetta whatever and Klobuchar -and anyone with a modicum of common sense knows that failing Biden is but a stalking horse for leftist totalitarianism- but he does deceive some of good will) anyone who wishes this on America helps to enable a veritable onslaught of dictatorial leftist correction of a recalcitrant real America , which" takes refuge in its God and guns" and must be "corrected". That's the choice.

  2. Dr. Waddy:At first I was disturbed when I saw that the percentage majority of Dems in Iowa voting for "moderates" (sic) led those of the crazies. Of course I hope for Bernie, a hopelessly left presumptuous dreamer who will lead the Dems to Pickett's Charge.But I'm encouraged now by considering near future contests.I do not think that an open homosexual will be popular among black voter and that rules out for them Mayor Pete. He disingenuously minimizes his sexual orientation in this campaign but would, in office advance it in a disdainful and presumptuous manner, including statutory or, if necessary executive and criminal sanctions on all who have any doubts about "gay marriage".

  3. Dr. Waddy: I do not mean by the above that the South Bend Mayor would lose the votes of all black voters in the South but he would lose enough of them, in my opinion, that that critical portion of the Southern electorate would not be an asset for him.

  4. You put it very well, Jack: win in 2020, and we can put the Left on its heels for a generation -- lose, and we can be sure that the "dirty tricks" used against the Trump family so shamelessly will be deployed anew against my family and yours. American democracy might well be strangled in its crib.

    As for Mayor Pete, I disagree that he's minimized his homosexuality. On the contrary, in the debates he seems to wear it as a badge of honor, which is of course exactly what it is for most Democrats. You're right that many Dems have doubts about the electability of a gay mayor, however. He will face some serious headwinds. It's looking to me like Buttigieg could finish second in NH, which would be a coup on his part. His standing in the national polls still isn't all that high, but momentum could carry him to some victories on Super Tuesday. Bernie is also feeling some momentum, though, and could emerge as the "winner" in the first three states. That might even carry him to victory in South Carolina too. So many intriguing possibilities! If Biden does sink like a stone, in any case, SOMEONE has to inherit his moderate support. If you don't believe it will be Buttigieg, does that mean...Bloomberg? Ick!

  5. Dr. Waddy: I dunno. Certainly any by definition disingenuous Dem" moderate" would, upon winning in November, undergo a miraculous and apologetic metamorphosis into a crazy. What we need is an honest knock down drag out between our President and his real America on the one hand and an obvious leftist crazy. Lets get this hash settled for good.

  6. Mayor P, Jack, wears his sexual preference with pride. I had to laugh over one voter from Iowa who claimed she/he didn't know. Where you been living, in a box? (wanted to scream that). My son wants to know in all seriousness, what would we call his husband if elected? First Man?

  7. Jack, yes -- the more candid the Dems are about their radicalism, the better our chances of defeating them will be, and the more consequential that defeat will seem. Go, Bernie, go!

    Linda, Mayor Pete's candidacy will force the Dems to "get real" on the issue of homosexuality, in the sense that many of them have qualms about his electability, but won't want to give voice to those qualms. Personally, I regard his youth, inexperience, and "empty suitedness" as bigger drawbacks than his gayness, but time will tell.

    1. I agree, Dr. Waddy.

      I was reading somewhere that he is being fronted by big tech and gets his talking points from such. I also noticed that he never truly answers the questions.

  8. Dr. Waddy and Linda: What
    I fear in MAYOR (that's all) Pete's candidacy his Kennedyesque and his Slick Willie esque confidence and dismissiveness of all doubt and opposition. He's very articulate. But then, President Trump is no tragically apologetic Bush 1 or very mistaken candidate Nixon. Trump is an hombre. He was blithe to use "bullshit" in his victory address and good for him!

    1. Indeed,, Jack...and you know, I about fell out of my chair when I saw and heard the President use that word. grin.

  9. I'll be honest -- my enthusiasm for expletives is a lot less than yours... Sure, Trump is frank and earthy, and that's great, but I'm not sure curse words are really necessary or helpful. They will reinforce the perception that Trump is a boor.

    Linda, good point that Mayor Pete generally has nothing much of substance to say. He's "articulate," yes, but that's because he's smart, polished, and disciplined. None of that means he's insightful, or anywhere near as "moderate" as he claims. I don't like or trust him, but like Jack I do fear him. He could be trouble.