Sanders & Trump Soar to Victory: Establishment Candidates Revise Strategy

It’s time to Break It Down!

Another week, another election; we are now in full swing. Yesterday the state of New Hampshire held the first Primary of the Election Season. Last week’s voting in Iowa comprised a series of Caucuses for both Parties. During those Caucuses the favorites were challenged, and upset in one case, winning by fractions of a percentage in the other.

Donald Trump led in the polling in Iowa right up to Election Day last Monday. Ted Cruz eclipsed him in an upset, winning by 4 percentage points. Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders, but given the margin of error, was in a statistical tie. The results mirrored the polls, as Clinton won by mere hundreds of a percentage point, both candidates garnering over 49% of the vote.

Last night, the polling favorites not only held their serve, they dominated the election results. In a race that still includes numerous candidates in New Hampshire (28 candidates on the Democratic side, 30 on the Republican side), Bernie Sanders was leading his primary rival, Hillary Clinton, by 20 percentage points, 59% to 39%, with 39% of precincts reporting. On the GOP side, Trump, who has a greater number of serious rivals compiled an even more substantial lead, more than doubling second place finisher John Kasich, and nearly tripling third place finisher Ted Cruz, 34%, 16%, and 12%.

If before the Election Season ensued, anyone had suggested that a political neophyte and an Independent running as a Democratic Socialist would capture a second place finish and a first place finish for the two major political party’s first two elections of the Season, no savvy political observer would have believed the person suggesting that was sane, and certainly not correct. Yet, here we are; that is precisely what has happened.

So all of a sudden, summer and fall have given way to winter, and the time for hollow speculating is over; we are now taking names and counting votes. The notion of those “wild and crazy” guys, Sanders and Trump, falling by the wayside has been vanquished.

Mr. Trump who boasts that he is self-funded, but who benefits daily from free media, undoubtedly valued at more than most candidates could afford to purchase, has the wherewithal to stay in the fray as long as he chooses. Senator Sanders, who early on drew very little notoriety, and very long odds, has grown his campaign immeasurably, and sparked a national fundraising apparatus that rivals or exceeds at this point in time that of former Senator Barack Obama in 2008. His millions of donors have enabled him to take funding the campaign off the list of things he needs to be concerned about in the near term. These two upstarts will not be exiting the field of candidates anytime soon.

Senator Clinton, who was the odds on favorite on the Democratic side, and who still leads in national polling, though by a much slimmer margin than at the outset, knows that she is in a race that could unfold much differently than she had anticipated. Without question, her campaign feels that the demographic dynamics are about to shift in their favor, and they may well do so.

Next on the list of Primary States is South Carolina, a state where 50% or more of the voting population may be comprised of minorities. This traditionally has been the meat and potatoes of the Clinton campaign machinery. However, Senator Sanders has been upping his game, as it were, in his pursuit of key demographic components of the Obama Coalition, including young voters, women, and yes, African Americans. While I am not convinced that he will win the African American demographic, he clearly has made major inroads with women and young voters. This has to be a major concern to Team Clinton, and you can believe it has them going back to the drawing board.

The phenomenon that is Trump has proved to be a major disruption in GOP establishment circles. It is necessary to consider though, that if you read the tea leaves associated with GOP polling and elections, the establishment is currently considered a big part of, if not the problem itself. So as candidates like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich hone their individual campaign strategy for handling/dealing with Donald Trump, they must also scramble to ascertain their place in the Party Scrum, better known as the GOP Debates.

In the last debate, Chris Christie excoriated Rubio, in an effort to weaken the Senator, while strengthening his own cred. By all accounts it seemed to have had a boomerang effect. Rubio, who was aglow after Iowa, where he finished third, and practically declared himself the winner, lost ground with New Hampshire voters and appears to be looking at no better than a fifth place finish. He found this sorely disappointing, blamed his low finish on his poor debate performance, and promised his supporters, “It will never happen again.” We’ll see. The boomerang part of the analogy is the screed, worse case, came back to haunt him, best case, provided absolutely no lift as he finished an even more disappointing sixth (out of eight).

Last week, I framed part of the discussion in terms of winners and losers. Today, in my view, there is a tie for the biggest winner label. Both Sanders and Trump take home the Gold in yesterday’s contests. Sanders had long held a lead in New Hampshire, and he was expected to win big there. The Clinton Campaign had hoped to narrow the margin. It does not appear they succeeded. Congratulations Senator Sanders.

Trump had led for most of the time in Iowa. In the end he faltered. Whether it was because he skipped a Fox News GOP Debate is, well debatable. Regardless of the contributing factors, his brand (winning) was tarnished. That he rebounded in New Hampshire was part redemption, and part historical moment. It was the first election victory for Team Trump.

On the flip side, since the Democrats have only two candidates left, it’s quite simple; either you win, or you lose. Mrs. Clinton did not win. If there is anything positive to derive from this for Secretary Clinton, it is that she can exhale and put Iowa, a virtual tie, and New Hampshire, a thumping of a loss, behind her. Bring on the Palmetto State, at least that is what she hopes.

Back to the Republicans, John Kasich, an establishment candidate, and outlier at once, also won. He was not the biggest winner; that was Trump, but he won nonetheless. His establishment bona fides accrue from being Ohio’s Governor. However, he has chosen to take, from a GOP perspective, an outlier’s stance. He is the only Republican who sounds, most of the time anyway, as though he has no personal vendetta against the government as an operational entity. A second place finish for him must be seen as even more impressive than Senator Rubio’s third place finish last week. Also, Senator Cruz and Governor Bush, the likely third and fourth place finishers, respectively, won last night. That’s half the GOP field, and half the Democrats main candidates on the winning side of the ledger, by my reckoning.

The rest of the field, Senator Rubio, Governor Christie, Mrs. Fiorina, and Dr. Carson all lost. I will not be surprised to see any among Christie, Fiorina and Carson call it a wrap. They may opt to continue a while longer, but for all practical purposes…they are done. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, while disappointed, still has life, at least for now. With 11% of the vote, he will get some number of delegates. The other three, finishing less than 10% will get none.

With 75% of the votes counted, the voting percentages for GOP candidate looked like this:

Trump – 34%

Kasich – 16%

Cruz – 11%

Bush – 11%

Rubio – 11%

Christie – 8%

Fiorina – 4%

Carson – 2%

With 75% of the votes counted, the voting percentages for Democratic candidates looked like this:

Sanders – 60%

Clinton – 39%

The candidates are bidding New Hampshire adieu and polishing up their messages to go and spread their version of the political Gospel in the Palmetto State. The lines spouted by Trump and Sanders will likely highlight the themes that have gotten them to this point. Mr. Trump will assure the voters that he and he alone will make America great again. Senator Sanders promises a revolution, including, Universal Healthcare, free college, more taxes on the super rich, tighter reins on financial institutions, and a $15 minimum wage, among other things. Mrs. Clinton has already found religion, and has begun reciting/claiming a litany of items from President Obama’s tenure as the centerpieces of the administration that she would lead. By contrast, every Republican, save Kasich, promises to hit the undo key on all things Obama. Governor Kasich will speak about climate control, and retaining elements of, rather than destroying Obamacare, among other things.

There you have it, “Sanders & Trump Soar to Victory: Establishment Candidates Revise Strategy!” I’m done; holla back!

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