The results from this week’s Democratic caucus in Iowa may not have been exactly what people expected. I had predicted Hillary would win, and she did, but never thought it would get this close. Bernie Sanders’ supporters view this as a huge victory and is “2008 all over again.” From where I sit, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have reasons to celebrate.
For Hillary, 2016 is not a repeat of 2008. If you remember, she was seen as being the eventual Democratic nominee and they were totally blindsided by the upstart that was Barack Obama. By eeking out a win in Iowa, she has shown that she really has learned her lesson from 2008. Her ground game was a lot better this time around. Her retail politicking has gotten better. Hillary Clinton 2016 is not Hillary Clinton 2008 and it showed in how she did. Bernie still pulled out a lot of people who would not have caucused otherwise, but the night went to her. And a win is a win.
For Bernie, this was the first test of his ability to translate the enthusiasm he generates on the campaign train to actual votes. This is something the other anti-DC, rage channeling candidate, Donald J. Trump could not do. Bernie could.The one way this year’s caucus IS like 2008 is that it makes him look viable. When lily white Iowa voted for Barack Obama, voters around the country looked at him differently. All of a sudden, a black president seemed possible. Fast forward eight years and electing a Democratic Socialist looks like it’s not as crazy as it sounded a year ago. Millennials are not turned off by the “s” word, though a number of news outlets think this is because they d0n’t really know what it means. Suddenly, people who may not love the idea of voting for Hillary may look more seriously at Bernie. The real downside is that this campaign is going to remain tight for at least a little while longer.
To be totally honest, I have to admit that I am a Hillary supporter. From 1996 through 2001, I did advance for the Bill Clinton administration. In 2008, I was a radio and TV booker for Hillary. You may or may not believe me when I say that I am not writing this with my Hillary hat on. After 20 years of working on presidential campaigns, I have learned a thing or two and have developed pretty good instincts. This is me being as objective as I can get.
Both Democrats can hold their heads up high after their respective showings in Iowa. On a side note, as a Democrat living in Florida, I hope Bernie stays at least competitive through March because that will help down ticket Democrats where I live.