Looking at South Carolina

Iowa

Sometimes, even on Twitter, somebody comes along and really hits the nail on the head:

I actually almost forgot to look, but no, there is no further progress to report in Iowa,[1] which leaves us with not so much of a picture of who’s winning as it does who’s losing.

I’m seeing a lot of punditry about New Hampshire now but for me, the real question is South Carolina, allegedly Joe Biden’s “firewall.” I don’t know who those voters will ultimately turn out for, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Pete Buttigieg.

Longer term, I’m wondering if this race really devolves into Bernie Sanders versus anybody-but-Bernie. It calls to mind the Republican dilemma in 2016, with important differences: Republicans were complacent about Donald Trump; when #NeverTrump, a largely neoconservative project, finally arose, it was much too little, much too late. Democrats are anything but complacent; Sanders already has the neoliberals in a panic.

And for me, here in Pittsburgh, it looks tough. I see more enthusiasm for Trump than anyone else. In itself, that doesn’t say much: The Republican field consists of Trump; Democrats have yet to settle on a single candidate and it isn’t yet clear who that is.

The dynamic comes down to this: If, as some predict, Sanders does indeed win the nomination, will the desperation to be rid of Trump outweigh neoliberal and so-called “moderate” loathing for Sanders? Would neoliberals stay home? Would they, as I’m inclined to think, actually vote for Trump because he advances at least some of their project?

Conversely, say Buttigieg wins the nomination. Will the desperation to be rid of Trump be sufficient to bring Sanders supporters to the polls? There’s a lot of suspicion of the Democratic National Committee right now. #BernieOrBust might alienate many so-called “moderates,” but #VoteBlueNoMatterWho is not looking like a winner either.

If I were a betting man, my money would be on Trump winning re-election.


  1. [1]Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 7, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17275; Associated Press, “Iowa Elections Results,” February 7, 2020, https://elections.ap.org/dailykos/results/2020-02-03/state/IA/race/P/raceid/17278

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