Former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren got less than stellar results in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, with neither one achieving first or second place. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have emerged as the new front-runners in the race for the Democratic nomination, which is coming as a surprise to many who thought that Biden would cater to the moderates and Warren to the progressive wing of the Democratic party.
The appeal of the Joe Biden campaign to Democratic voters is his experience in the White House under Obama and many years in Congress. In comparison to the socialist views expressed by some of his Democratic counterparts like Bernie Sanders, Biden has consistently offered a moderate liberal approach to issues ranging from healthcare to the economy. However, his frequent blunders such as saying things like “truth over facts” on the campaign trail, and his decades being within the political establishment make him come across as out of touch to the average voter.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren successfully courted the far left wing of the Democratic Party a few months ago, presenting herself as a strong alternative to voters who may have been turned off by Bernie Sanders’s age or approach. Her failure to perform in the early primary states can be tied back to two things. Warren struggled to be straightforward about whether or not taxes would rise under her Medicare for All plan, and she received a lot of negative attention after accusing Sanders of calling her a “liar” on live television following the January debate on CNN. After these two incidents, some voters flocked towards Sanders, believing that he is the better person to execute policies like tuition-free public college and universal healthcare.
With Sanders now being the clear representation of progressive Democrats, two unlikely candidates are fighting for the moderate spot Joe Biden once held. Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar were considered fringe candidates when they first entered the race for the White House, but are now gaining national attention and support. Buttigieg narrowly won the Iowa caucuses, and Klobuchar shockingly managed to garner 20% of the vote in New Hampshire, putting her in third place. If these candidates still stick around through the end of June, a contested convention is highly likely, which will cause a battle between the progressives and the moderates.
There are still dozens of primaries left, and it is difficult to predict who is likely to win. Will Sanders be able to take his socialist platform to a national level? Or will Michael Bloomberg find a way to win the nomination with his high number of commercials and online marketing? It’s too early to tell. The Democratic Party is heavily divided, and the next few months will determine the American political landscape for decades to come.
Photo Source: WBUR