No self-respecting political blog can avoid covering a US Presidential Election, and with such an interesting one underway, here are my thoughts.
First: Sanders is doing well. Incredibly well, in fact. According to the BBC, his campaign raised more money than Clinton’s in January and so far in February as well. His campaign is also rapidly building the nation-wide infrastructure that is so critical to winning elections. What Sanders lacks however, is a win in a representative state. The upcoming primary in South Carolina provides him with an opportunity to do so. If he wins in South Carolina, that could very well propel him to absolute front-runner status. But even if he loses, so long as the lose isn’t too bad, he’s still in the race for the long haul.
Second: The Republican race is still anyone’s guess. The GOP nomination has so far been very difficult to predict. Both primaries so far have been filled with surprises and upsets. In Iowa, Ted Cruz had a shock win and Marco Rubio had an unexpectedly strong third place finish. In New Hampshire, John Kasich’s surprisingly strong second place finish and Rubio and equally surprisingly lackluster finish were both unexpected. And while the candidates who have recently dropped out of the race, particularly Chris Christie, did not pull in too many votes, as close as the race is it is probably enough new votes up for grabs to make a difference.
Third: Jeb Bush could very well come back. If Jeb handle’s Saturday nights upcoming debate well, he is in a strong position to make a comeback. He had a solid performance in New Hampshire, not stellar, but strong enough to keep him going. His campaign is incredibly well financed, he has a strong record as governor, and the primaries are moving into territory more friendly to the GOP establishment and the Bush family. If Jeb does manage a win in South Carolina, his campaign will come back in a major way. If he doesn’t though, he will be in trouble. Although, given the amount of money his campaign has, it will be very hard indeed to knock Bush out of the race altogether.
Fourth: While commentators have a tendency to place undue importance on each of the primaries, I do believe South Carolina will be a particularly important primary, especially for the Republican race. Trump is the undoubted front-runner, and South Carolina is not going to change that. But the South Carolina primary could very well determine his main challenger. If Cruz or Rubio don’t do well, their campaigns will be in trouble. When it comes down to it, the Republican race is about money. Jeb Bush is backed by the majority of the GOP establishment and its substantial financial contributions. Trump has his own private fortune to lean on. Cruz and Rubio’s campaigns’ have much more fluid bases of support. A poor showing by either one of them will be difficult to recover from. As for the Democrat race, well, its going to be a long fight either way.