My takeaways since Iowa Caucuses 2020

At work this Monday, I found myself nervous and excited about how the Democratic presidential primaries will shape up to in Iowa. I acknowledge this did distract me from everyday social work I engage in at work.

I think the larger political landscape ultimately has huge impacts on everyday social work.

Last week, Supreme Court of the United States decided in favor of allowing Trump Administration to enforce public charge rules against immigrants who utilize public services such as food stamps, Medicaid, housing vouchers, etc. when they apply for permanent residency/citizenship. If shelter counted as a public service then all immigrant clients I assist at the shelter will be impacted by this.

Elections matter. Politics matter, especially local politics. I can’t help but be rather obsessed with national politics though.

I have some grave concerns about what happened with the Iowa caucuses this year. The one positive thing I can say about it is that I appreciate that they tried to be make the process more accessible to people with disabilities and to Iowa expats in other states and in other countries and to immigrant communities. The people who volunteered and worked their hardest to organize these caucus events should be lauded and not overlooked.

That said, my overall takeaways from this event is not positive. It’s very upsetting to me how much of a mess it all has turned out to be.

First, I can’t help but be disappointed in the very low overall voter turnout. Iowa is still very much a Trump-supporting red state. I was hoping that Republican support has lessened since 2016 but despite the impeachment and so many crazy awful things done by the Republican administration and legislators done in the past 3 years, the low turnout means that liberals in Iowa are still very much a political minority there.

The elephant in the room of course is the fact that the caucuses ended 2 days ago and we still don’t know who won! Yesterday, a day after the caucuses ended, partial results were reported out. The results were only 62% complete. There was no transparency why these precincts results were selected to be reported and no transparency when to expect more results would be reported. Many hours later before I went to bed, I saw that the reporting out results were now 71% complete.

This is a disservice not only to the candidate who won, but to the voters and caucus-goers. Their voices ended up getting silenced.

Iowa caucuses should have mattered but with how it played out, what we ended up doing so far has been dismissing its importance and continuing the horse race theories.

In regards to horse race theories, I have some of my own to write down here. I’m not sure if it matters to anyone but with 71% of Iowa caucuses results reported, this is now what I predict the Democratic presidential primary goes from here:

1. I think it’s clearer than ever now that Joe Biden will not have a path to the nomination. There is a dearth of enthusiasm for his campaign. He will have come out of Iowa not winning a single precinct and not winning a single national delegate. His campaign has been talking up how he has the support of African-Americans and people of color. Very few of the non-white Iowans caucused for Biden this year. Iowa is 90% white but the 10% non-white people did not go for Biden. I think that should sound the alarms for the Biden campaign.

2. Elizabeth Warren appears to not have won a precinct. All the delegates awarded to her are due to realigment. She has a great 2nd choice support among voters. I think that’s a really great thing for her campaign. If all the state primaries and caucuses were like Iowa’s that operated with realignment and with ranked choice voting mechanisms, I think Warren may well become the nominee. Unfortunately for Warren, unless she becomes the 1st choice for most primary voters, I don’t see her path to the nomination. I only see uphill struggle for Warren after this.

3. It’s difficult to say definitely if Pete Buttigieg won or if Bernie Sanders won. Pete so far has more state delegate equivalent, but in regards to national delegates, Pete and Bernie have the same amount. Bernie won the most votes both during the first alignment and even after realignment. Pete got the media bump from this but unless he can earn more non-white voters, after the New Hempshire primary, Pete will mostly likely lose all the primaries after that.

4. Then can Bernie be the nominee? I personally hope so but the wild card factor is Michael Bloomberg. He is steadily increasing his support in states that will have the most impact in the whole process – Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, Florida… He is ready to spend $2 billion or more towards this race and he doesnt rely on grassroots support or donor support at all. I was wrong to think this primary will ultimately be about Biden vs Bernie. I can now see that this primary will actually be about Bloomberg vs Bernie.

5. Lastly, what does this mean in a final electoral fight against Trump? I think Democrats will be at a hige disadvantage no matter who the nominee is. My bias tells me Bernie and his #NotMeUs movement will be the campaign actually capable of winning against Trump but I unfortunately will not be surprised if Trump wins reelection in November. That is kind of the state of politics in this country right now.

Anyway, that’s my takeaways. What do you guys think?

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