With the start of 2016 comes the proper start of the US Presidential race, with the Iowa caucus (a meeting which selects the state’s candidates) less than a month away.
For those unfamiliar with the US Primary election system, each state votes for a candidate (like the Presidential election) and their electing delegates are designated to that candidate at the party nomination conference, where the candidate with the most delegates nominating them is designated the party’s candidate. Some states have a winner-takes-all system where all delegates are all assigned to one candidate; other states distribute them among all candidates gaining votes, based on proportion of the vote won.
Normally, it becomes clear fairly early in the race as to which candidate in the field will win, so the others withdraw in order to allow the candidate to begin fundraising. This is likely to be the case in the Democratic primary, where it is fairly obvious that no one will beat Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders may mount a challenge in the liberal north-eastern states, but as soon as the race heads into the conservative southern states, the more moderate Clinton will become insurmountable. Martin O’Malley is already an afterthought. Sorry, Mr O’Malley.
So who will challenge her? The Republican race could last far longer but we already know that it’s probably not going to be Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul or Rick Santorum – which leaves businessman Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio as the likely contenders.
Trump has been leading in all the early polls, despite some statements which you may have thought would make him unelectable. Cruz has however mounted a challenge as the establishment candidate with broadly the same conservative views as Trump, and is actually leading Trump in Iowa. He is also far less liable to insert his foot in his mouth. Rubio is the least conservative of the three (though Trump holds quite liberal views on abortion, which could hurt him in the Southern states) but has run an odd campaign based more around raising money and national attention, rather than focussing on key primary states.
This is both confounding and frustrating for the Republicans, Rubio is seemingly the candidate best equipped to beat Clinton, a good debater with moderate right-wing views and the ability to exploit Hillary’s many skeletons. Polling shows that both he and Cruz could beat Hillary, whilst Trump is always behind Clinton, by up to 11 points in a FOX News December Poll.
Whether Cruz’s more conservative ideology would enable him to win swing states in November is questionable, especially with Clinton being less liberal than her two predecessors as Democratic nominee. Hillary is not an exceptional candidate by any stretch of the imagination; both Rubio and Cruz present themselves more effectively and don’t have the negative history, so she’d best be hoping that the divisive Trump can pull off an upset.
Featured image by Tara Shore.252