US Presidential Race Update: Democrat Field Remains Unpredictable and Republican Nomination Appears Secure

By Sam Lazenby 

Starting in Iowa on February 3rd, the primaries and caucuses to select each party’s presidential candidate are about to get underway. Candidates will compete to secure 15% of the preference votes needed to reach the viability threshold in each state, allowing them to receive delegates. Iowa is considered a relatively strong indicator of which nominee will win the nomination, with the last four Democratic nominees (Clinton, Obama, Kerry and Gore) all winning there. Early wins can be seen to give a campaign credibility: Bernie Sanders’s New Hampshire win in 2016 helped to sustain his chances (although he eventually lost out on the nomination to Hilary Clinton). The Democratic field remains unpredictable, with 58% of Democrats still considering themselves open to changing their mind over candidates, an atypically large proportion this late into the contest. 

Donald Trump looks certain to secure the nomination from his Republican party

In his second run for the nomination, Sanders has had a particularly strong few weeks, with a January 22nd CNN poll placing him ahead of the frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden (albeit within the margin of error). Sanders enjoys a strong ground campaign within the early states, as well as popular support among Iowa’s Latino community, who he intends to encourage to turn out via Spanish-language advertising and high profile surrogates such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. However, he remains tainted by recent criticism, including allegations of sexism by his Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren, who accuses him of suggesting a woman could not beat Trump in 2020, as well as from former rival Hilary Clinton, who in a recent documentary accused him of being disliked and incapable of getting much done in politics. 

The ongoing impeachment trial may also destabilise Biden. Trump’s defence team intend to accuse him of a conflict of interest whilst in office, after he successfully pressured Ukraine to sack top-prosecutor Viktor Shokin between 2015-16, who was investigating a company of which Biden’s son sat on the board of directors. In contrast, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar both received a boost after being jointly endorsed by the New York Times on 19th January, which recognised them as the best candidates depending whether you wanted a moderate or progressive agenda. 

The Democratic field remains unpredictable, with 58% of Democrats still considering themselves open to changing their mind over candidates

Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City Mayor who only announced his candidacy in November last year, has seen gradually increasing support after buying extensive advertising space, now effectively tied with Pete Buttigieg, the young mayor of South Bend, Indiana at around 9 – 10%. However Bloomberg has come under criticism for his controversial use of non-disclosure agreements and failure to disclose aspects of his finances. 

Since launching his 2020 re-election campaign on the day of his inauguration, Donald Trump looks certain to secure the nomination from his Republican party. The impeachment trial underway in the Reublican-majority Senate looks set to clear him, due to the two thirds majority needed to remove a President from office. This may even boost his campaign against whichever Democrat secures the nomination, as Trump will no doubt rally against a Democratic establishment who he will argue never accepted the legitimacy of his election victory.

Image by Jonathan Cutrer via Flickr. 

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