Iowa caucus dents the anti-establishment armour

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On the 1st of February, the Iowa caucus voted in the presidential candidacy elections and the results leave the race open-ended. One side shows Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wound up in a ‘virtual draw’ whilst Ted Cruz surprisingly pushes Donald Trump into second place. By no means however does this mean that Donald Trump is defeated, since the following state caucus, a less conservative and more secular New Hampshire proved a much better fit for the self-made politician.

If the Iowa caucus results can be used as a ‘make or break’ of the presidential candidate elections, this rule does not hold this year. The results of the votes on the 1st of February not only bore a few surprises but also leave the rest of the race difficult to predict. On the side of the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, who just a few months ago was hardly registered in opinion polls compared to the well-established ex-First Lady, gave Hillary a humbling scare with his soaring success. Although Hillary Clinton commented on the events saying that she was “breathing a big sigh of relief”, she is under serious threat from the self-proclaimed socialist. Bernie Sanders has recently gained considerable support from the younger parts of the Democratic electorate and the age gap between Hillary’s and Bernie’s electorate is widening further. According to John Cassidy in the ‘New Yorker’, the junior Vermont Senator got 86 per cent of the democratic vote in the 17-24 age group and 81 per cent of the 25-29 year olds. However he too faces difficulties for the next rounds as voter turnout of the young electorate was at merely 18 per cent.

In general there was a higher than usual turnout of Republican voters, inspired by Trump’s demagoguery-fuelled campaigning. His rival Ted Cruz however presented himself no less radical in some of his viewpoints than Trump. Not only did he adopt a critical stance to the Republican party, similar to Trump but he also suggests to build a wall across the southern US border with Mexico. Although Trump clearly conceded a loss, bringing him closer to political reality as he spoke to his voters surrounded by family after the results were announced, he has by no means lost the race. Approaching the following state caucus with a double-digits lead in opinion polls served him well as he swept away any opposition, beating the runner-up [Kasich] by 20%.

The single trend that emerges from these results is that the soaring success of the anti-establishment preachers on both sides seemed to have come to a halt. Although Ted Cruz is not exactly what one might call a mainstream moderate, the anti-establishment sentiment seems to have faded, especially among the young voters, who build the base of Bernie Sanders’ indignation against the power of Wall Street.

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Emilia Pilss is Publicity & Distribution Officer at bathimpact (2015/16). She writes about international politics.

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