The plot twists before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary

Some developments to keep in mind before you make your final predictions on what happens Tuesday:

Hillary Clinton thinks it’s crazy that people consider her the “establishment” candidate. “Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment,” Hillary Clinton said at Thursday’s Democratic debate, in response to Bernie Sanders saying that she “represents the establishment” and he represents “ordinary Americans.”

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Ms. Clinton’s denial that she is establishment is one of the things that makes her seem so establishment (along with her speaking fees from Goldman Sachs). She implies that being a woman and being part of the establishment is paradoxical, which would mean that House Minority Leader (and former Speaker) Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Federal Reserve System chair Janet Yellen are all still outsiders trying to get into the corridors of power.

The Atlantic’s Conor Freidersdorf writes that Hillary Clinton needn’t be so defensive: “The fact that a person is a member in good standing of the establishment is not, itself, a bad thing. I’ll bet that every institution Clinton touched back then was better for her work. Perhaps she even pushed them all in a progressive direction. The point is that she always did so as a powerful insider seeking incremental improvements to the established order.” Ms. Clinton may sense that incrementalism is not what voters want this year, at least not in New Hampshire. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary Clinton stresses her establishment ties once she’s out of New England and trying to get votes in the less starry-eyed states of the Midwest and South.)

Bernie Sanders is now getting almost as much media attention as Hillary Clinton. The Washington Post reports that Mr. Sanders is now getting almost equal time on TV news, after an autumn in which Ms. Clinton dominated coverage. “The polling and the attention from the media feed into each other,” writes Max Ehrenfreund. “Political scientists argue that attention from the media is one of the most important factors driving candidates’ poll numbers.”

That’s great news for Bernie Sanders, but remember that Republican Donald Trump, who got by far the most media coverage of any candidate in either party last year, has been getting great poll numbers—but did not do so well when people actually voted in the Iowa caucuses.

Bernie Sanders is now raising more money than Hillary Clinton. The Sanders campaign claims that it raised $20 million in January (compared with $15 million for Clinton) and another $3 million on the day after the Iowa caucuses. But if money alone could buy a major-party nomination, Jeb Bush ($156 million as of Jan. 31) would be locking up the Republican nomination.  

“Bernie Bros” are the talk of the Internet. Vox’s Dara Lind explains the phenomenon, which is really about “about a specific subset of Sanders supporters who are particularly active on social media (especially Twitter) and can be particularly aggressive in defending their candidate.” But though polls show that Mr. Sanders is somewhat more popular among men, the two camps are really separated by age, with a CNN poll of Iowa caucus-goers finding 86 percent of all voters under 25 supporting Bernie Sanders and 69 percent of voters over 65 with Hillary Clinton.

My favorite sentence in Ms. Lind’s analysis: “Older people are both less likely to love Bernie Sanders and more likely to write tsk-tsking columns about how rude people are on the internet.” Did the 74-year-old Bernie Sanders, a curmudgeon if there ever was one, ever think his presidential campaign would tick off so many curmudgeons?

We may be seeing a realignment not between, but within a political party. Bloomberg’s Joshua Green has a great piece putting the Republican race in the context of realignment theory, developed by political scientist V.O. Key in 1955 to describe unusually important elections where “the decisive results of the voting reveal a sharp alteration of the pre-existing cleavage within the electorate.” Think of 1932, when the urban and labor vote helped put Franklin D. Roosevelt in office, or 1980, when the South made a break with the Democratic Party and helped to elect Ronald Reagan.

As Mr. Green writes, the theory is less fashionable now that the electorate seems so fixed and so evenly divided between the parties, but he wonders if we’ve missed a big change within the GOP:

In hindsight, the 2010 election looks like it may have set off, or at least accelerated, a shift within a Republican Party that, in the 30 years since Reagan took office, has oriented itself around free markets, a smaller safety net, foreign adventurism, and low marginal tax rates for the wealthy. As Cruz and Trump have demonstrated, a large subsection of Republican voters—possibly a majority—are no longer satisfied with this arrangement…. Every candidate who’s caught fire this cycle came to political prominence after 2010: Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina all fit this bill. Those who have disappointed the most are generally products of the era before then: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich come to mind.
 

Mr. Green writes that the base of power in the GOP may be shifting away from the executive class: “A Cruz or Trump win would signify that working-class voters will no longer be forsaken by their party leaders in favor of a class of wealthy campaign donors.”

The Republican Party may be split, but foreign-policy doves are not welcome. FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone eulogizes the presidential campaign of Rand Paul, who tried to argue for the protection of civil liberties even as his Republican rivals pledged tougher and tougher anti-terrorism measures. “Paul was the sole dissenter,” Ms. Malone adds, “speaking out—most notably in debates—against a more interventionist foreign policy.”

I’d characterize Ted Cruz and Donald Trump as less “interventionist” than Marco Rubio and most of the others, but they’re still hawkish in the sense of advocating that the United States act unilaterally and even violate international law (i.e., kill civilians) if it makes us feel safer. Rand Paul has stood out by his willingness to acknowledge that if we push around other peoples, they might push back. At any rate, the Republican with momentum right now is Marco Rubio, who has a 100 percent “hawk” score on 31 questions, as scored by OnTheIssues.org. So-called extremists Donald Trump and Ted Cruz scored 55 percent and 88 percent, respectively.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Bill Mazzella
1 year 11 months ago
Bernie Sanders would be the greatest disaster for the democratic party since George McGovern. Secondly, your comparisons to other offices that women held is so off base that one wonders what you are thinking....The presidency is the big one and everyone but you knows that.
ed gleason
1 year 11 months ago
Sanders as a socialist is un-electable in the mid west and South.. and throw in PA [His youngster supporters have never heard the Red Scare arguments] , The GOP is drooling for his nomination. .... And Hillary 'is likeable enough'
Tom Maher
1 year 11 months ago
Your quite right that Bernie's socialist political agenda has very big problems that are not at all acceptable to most Americans. Potentially the right GOP candidate will be throwing harpoons at Bernie's socialist Presidential and life-long personal political goals. But as Ted Cruz just said today in New Hampshire to the delight of the crowd ":the next Democratic debate will be in Leavenworth prison". Who would have ever thought that a evangelical stiff like Ted Cruz could be such a fun guy in pointing out Hillary's ever-present problems with her emails ? Everyone but the loyal Democrats knows there are continued on-going discoveries of very serious criminal violations with Hillary's handling of government records on her private email server. She denied access of non-classified public records to the press and public while not securing very sensitive classified government information from foreign adversaries. She ignored court subpoenas to turn over the emails and instead deleted tens of thousands emails claiming that all her emails were private in defiance of court orders to provide the emails to the court. The restoration of these deleted emails is has been taken months and will likely continue for many more months with likely many new discoveries of more sensitive classified information to be revealed. However despite Hillary's public assurance the emails were not private and as one would expect often did contain very sensitive classified information as one would expect of the public records of someone who was the Secretary of State. To this day an accurate and complete accounting of what actually happened during her tenure as Secretary of State is being re-constructed with the greatest of difficulties. Hillary by far has the bigger problem than Bernie. Which is why Bernie is polling 2:1 better than Hillary in New Hampshire and doing very well everywhere else. There is no firewall for Hillary. Hillary has just recently said the cavalry (Joe Biden, Jerry Brown, John Kerry etc.) is not coming. New candidates are too late to get into the primaries to oppose Bernie. Hillary's private server and email problems are forever corrosive of her ability to be a successful Presidential candidate. Her explanation given during the debate of the implications of the on-going FBI investigation of her private unsecured email server which contained very sensitive classified information are false, misleading and vey delusional and spoken in very bad faith. Hillary just can not take responsibility for what everyone expects of a Secretary of State to protect the nation's classified secrets. Instead of being accountable to the public she plays the victim, makes outrageous excuses, covers up and misleads the public on why she exposed sensitive classified information from being hacked and the data misused by foreign adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran who have been known for years to be hacking U.S. government servers for state secrets. This is the same Hillary who falsely claimed her husband , Bill Clinton, problems during his administration in the 1990s were a "vast right-wing conspiracy". Democrats are ignoring the gravity and seriousness of Hillary's on-going email and private server problem. As Bob Woodward recently said Hillary's email problems and cover-up are worse than Nixon's Watergate. Like Nixon Hillary is not above the law and like Nixon will be held accountable by a political process as is happening. Hillary is an extremely flawed candidate and is not at all "good enough".

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