February 1st signaled more than just the beginning of the month. It was the official kick off of the 2016 election season. Presidential candidates headed to Iowa, each hoping to pull off a win. Iowa is one of the few states that actually holds a caucus, while others hold a traditional primary election to choose their state’s nominee for President. Iowa is also the first state to hold elections during the campaign season. Because of this, the Iowa caucus holds a lot of weight as far as the national conventions are concerned.
A caucus is different from an election. During an election, votes are cast from machines when people go to poll stations. A caucus, on the other hand, is a group of people who gather in different places like town halls and schools to cast their votes together.
Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were neck to neck the entire time while Martin O’Malley fell short. Just weeks before, Sanders was shown to be points down in the polls compared to Hillary, but he made a pleasantly surprising comeback. While many believe that Clinton barely edged out Sanders, I believe that it was a tie because Bernie and Hillary were less than a single percentage point apart. This calls into question how accurately the votes were counted. A recount could have occurred but the difference between votes was so slim that it would have been difficult to identify who truly won.
On the Republican side, Ted Cruz pulled ahead in a surprising twist to win with 27.6% of votes compared to Donald Trump’s 24.3% and Marco Rubio’s 23.1%. Since Iowa is the first main “election” of the year, it could have ended up worse for Trump. While second place is nothing to sneeze at, he was still several points behind Cruz. New Hampshire could potentially be the key for Trump to regain his footing and get back in the game.
Overall, I was relatively happy with the results of the 2016 Iowa Caucus. While this was the first important vote of the election cycle, there is much more ahead. Each candidate will be able to regroup before the New Hampshire election on February 9th. And, of course, there is plenty of time before the November election hits. I predict that the next few months are going to be historic, as the large number of millennials register to vote and then actually go to the polls and vote. Or maybe the United States will be blessed with its first female President. It’s only February, so who actually knows what the good ol’ US of A has in store for us this year.
With the New Hampshire primaries held only a week after the Iowa caucuses, candidates wasted no time hauling their goods to the Granite State for some last minute campaigning before Tuesday’s election. With energy still high from Iowa, each candidate hoped to pull off a win. Though it is a small state, New Hampshire is often the key to many Presidential campaigns. As in, it can make you or very, very, VERY easily break you. Not winning doesn’t mean your campaign in over, it just means that the amount of momentum that could propel you to the White House is severely compromised.
Bernie Sanders and his large amount of New Hampshire supporters rejoiced Tuesday night as the votes continued to pour in. While Sanders ended his evening with a resounding win, Hillary was left empty-handed with only 38% of votes compared to Sanders overwhelming 60.4%. Unlike Iowa, there was definitely a clear winner this time. Many say that a large part of why Sanders was so easily able to capture New Hampshire so early in the game is due to him hailing from New Hampshire’s neighbor, Vermont. It could also be because New Hampshire allows current out-of-state college students to claim New Hampshire as their state of residency so they can vote. Either way, I am thrilled with Sanders and his win! In Iowa, he nearly defeated Clinton and may have actually tied with her. I believe that this near-miss was the driving force behind his campaigning in the last week throughout New Hampshire.
Unlike last week in Iowa, Donald Trump was the one now standing victorious in New Hampshire on the Republican side. Trump pulled off a win with 35.3% of the votes, while John Kasich came in second with 15.8%. I was really surprised by Kasich’s second place victory. I hadn’t heard much about him or his campaign before the New Hampshire primaries. But the fact that he beat Cruz and Rubio was astounding to me! I’m not sure what I expected as far as the Republican party goes, but I was surprised to say the least. Though Kasich finished 8th in Iowa, he was able to pull off a second place win in New Hampshire, which is quite a comeback. It was also interesting to see how Rubio and Cruz moved down several places and didn’t do as well as they did in Iowa. Jeb Bush also made a decent-sized comeback from Iowa as well, securing 11% of votes compared to his 2.8% last week.
I was thrilled at the results of the New Hampshire primary. Bernie was able to pin down a win, which gives me hope that by the time November rolls around, his name will be on my ballot ticket! But celebration is premature. There are several more caucuses and primaries in the next few weeks that are critical to each candidate’s campaign.
The next stops on the campaign trail are a bit of a double whammy. Democrats and Republicans will be heading to Nevada for a caucus and South Carolina for an primary. The way these events are set up is a little strange though. In South Carolina, the Republican primary is on February 20th, while the Democratic primary is on February 27th. Something similar occurs in Nevada as far as dates go. The Nevada Democratic caucus in February 20th, while the Republican one is February 23rd. All I can say is America and American voters are in for a wild ride these next few weeks. Just wait and see.