Come November, the world will have a new US president-elect and the least unlikely winner still looks to be Hillary Clinton. Right now though, the polls are showing a rocky stretch ahead for her in the immediate future. It is still three weeks before Iowa delivers the first concrete result of the primary season on February 1st with New Hampshire following on February 8th. Surprisingly to some, the current polling has Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders gaining momentum, to the point where he is now neck and neck with Clinton in Iowa and ahead of her (in one poll by 14 points!) in New Hampshire.
Expect a brief outbreak of Bernie Fever – and a lot of schadenfruede if the setbacks for Clinton eventuate. Thereafter though, Clinton still seems likely to bounce back and secure the nomination:
Consider what comes next: Nevada (Feb. 20) and South Carolina (Feb. 27), two significantly more diverse states than lily-white Iowa and lily-whiter New Hampshire, and two places where Clinton currently enjoys massive leads in the polls. According to the RealClearPolitics rolling average, Clinton holds a 20-point advantage in Nevada and a whopping 40-point lead in South Carolina. March brings better news still for the former secretary of state, starting with a Super Tuesday slate that includes friendly territory in the form of southern states like Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The rest of the month, meanwhile, includes several big, delegate-rich contests that she won eight years ago during her battle with Barack Obama: Michigan, Florida, and Ohio. Yes, Sanders could have the momentum this time next month…..But if Iowa and New Hampshire are must-wins for anyone, it’s Sanders.
In 2016, the front-runners for the world’s most powerful job are unusually long in the tooth. Sanders will be 75 on election day, Clinton will be 69 and Trump will be 70 years old. Joe Biden, still the Democratic fallback if anything really bad happens to Hillary, will have his 74th birthday in November. By contrast, Republican hopefuls Mario Rubio and Ted Cruz will both be only 45 in November 2016, and that age/generational gap may well become relevant – especially if either end up facing off against a Clinton whose health has been regularly queried by right wing columnists, ever since her concussion, dizzy spells and fatigue in the wake of a fall in 2012. The various head to head polling match-ups ( Cruz vs Clinton, Sanders vs Trump etc) can be found here.
But right now, the very oldest candidate in the race has the progressive youth vote in his corner, amid some interesting gender splits:
The Quinnipiac poll suggested that Sanders is leading Clinton [in Iowa] among men by a whopping margin: sixty-one per cent to thirty per cent. Among women, the survey showed Clinton ahead by a considerable but somewhat smaller margin: fifty-five per cent to thirty-nine per cent. The P.P.P. poll also showed a considerable gender gap, and demonstrated that Sanders is currently getting the lion’s share of young voters, whereas Clinton is more reliant on the elderly. Among likely voters between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, the survey showed Sanders leading by fifty-five per cent to thirty-three per cent. Among seniors, the survey showed Clinton ahead, sixty-four per cent to twenty-six per cent. (The new CBS News/Times poll demonstrates that the age gap isn’t confined to Iowa. Among Democratic voters under forty-five, this national survey shows Sanders leading Clinton by a two-to-one margin.)
Clinton can take cynical comfort from this, given the fact that it is old people who tend to vote. Not to mention the fact that Sanders ( who is the longest serving independent senator in US history) is chasing the Democratic nomination while not – technically – being a member of the Democratic Party, although he caucuses with the party, calls himself a Democrat and has vowed to run as a Democrat in future elections. For now, Sanders’rise is a good illustration of the unease among Democrats with the party hierarchy’s favoured candidate ( ie Clinton) – much as Donald Trump is a symptom of the distaste among Republican voters for its own machine politicians.
For the past nine months, the conventional wisdom has been that the wind will eventually go out of Trump’s sails ( sometime, somehow) because he won’t be treated as a serious candidate by the wider voting public. Maybe, yet the premise seems shaky. As the rise of Sanders/Trump has shown, these are bad times for career politicians, right across the political spectrum. The rejection of Washington is deep and bi-partisan, and Trump also appears to be galvanising a lot of hitherto non-voters. Secondly, even if Trump does alienate many American voters outside his fan club, so does Hillary Clinton – who also records very high negative perceptions in the polls, beyond her circle of admirers. Late last year, pollsters were recording higher negative perceptions of her than of any candidate except Trump.
Right now among Republicans, Ted Cruz seems the likely choice if Trump does finally fall by the wayside. Cruz has consistently been likened to Richard Nixon – minus the paranoia and insecurity – and this piece is only the latest in a series of re-evaluations of the doggedly unlikeable Texas junior senator to bring up the Nixon parallel:
Cruz is cut from roughly similar cloth [as Nixon] He wears his ambition on his sleeve and is not highly charismatic or relatable. In high school, he could have been voted most likely to be seen walking on the beach in his dress shoes.
That’s a direct comparison. Someone once said of Nixon that he was the sort of person likely to have been given a briefcase on his 12th birthday – with the kicker that he would have been really, really pleased to receive it. For all of Cruz’ advantages in life – he went to Princeton and to Harvard – Cruz seems to have the same Nixonian kind of wily, driven, lone wolf personality:
If Cruz wins the nomination, it will be on the strength of intelligence and willpower. He will have outworked, outsmarted and outmaneuvered everyone else…. Marco Rubio and Chris Christie are both, in their own ways, more winsome and it’s easier to see how each of them could pick off Obama states. But Cruz has always understood that you have to win the primary to win the general. He has set about to do it in truly impressive fashion. Whoever is going to beat him, better know what he’s doing—because Cruz certainly does.
Finally, Cruz has earned a reputation as a rigidly ideological hardliner. That’s been no burden, in a year when only an ideological hardliner can have any hope of winning the Republican nomination. In fact, Cruz will do whatever it takes. Last August he was a rampant free trader who put his name to a WSJ op ed article backing the presidential fast track authority required to push the TPP through Congress ASAP. Come November, Cruz was railing against “Obamatrade” and leading the charge against any vote at all in 2016 on the TPP, a deal that he now decries. With this highly flexible track record, a President Cruz would have no trouble at all in signing the TPP deal into law next year.
Rozi Plain, in the backyard
Rozi Plain seems like a very English version of Courtney Barnett. Yet some British reviewer has also likened the British folk singer to Robert Wyatt, and that’s a more interesting comparison. There’s a similar clarity and patience to the observations, and the same sort of wry humour and anger driving them. All of which are discernible in this video for “Actually” – which isn’t really a fun song at all, even though the video depicts Plain and her parents eating oranges, doing tai chi and generally horsing around in the back yard with balloons, a sword, and fireworks. The song itself lays out a chilly set of observations about a breakup, en route to the refrain: “Don’ t get over it / This is actually it.” And then Plain bursts out laughing at the whole stupid business of making a jaunty video with your Mum and Dad about the etiquette of heartbreak.