Friday, January 29, 2016

There is a campaign after Iowa and New Hampshire

Bernie Sanders made appearances in Minnesota even while the major media stays focused on Iowa and New Hampshire. John Nichols (The Nation) previews the rest of the campaign.

Watching the cable news shows, reading the national papers, and even following social media, you would think that the 2016 presidential campaign will begin in Iowa and end in New Hampshire.

But the contests for the 2016 nominations of the Republican and Democratic parties are not going to be finished on February 1 in Iowa or February 9 in New Hampshire. Iowa’s caucuses begin a process that will select 46 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention. New Hampshire’s primary will select 24 pledged delegates. In a nomination contest will be decided by 4,764 Democratic delegates, these two states account for less than 2 percent of the total.

That is why, though most media outlets paid little attention to the story, Bernie Sanders was not in Davenport or Dubuque on the Tuesday before the Iowa caucuses. He was in Duluth.

Why Duluth? Because Minnesota will be caucusing on March 1—a day that will see hundreds of delegates selected in 11 states and American Samoa. (Democrats Abroad will also begin a week of voting that day.)

This is the political reality of the evolving 2016 race: while the focus now is on Iowa and New Hampshire (and to a lesser extent on later February contests in Nevada and South Carolina), the road to the convention travels through every state and district, commonwealth and territory. And with polls suggesting that the Democratic race has grown more competitive, front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sanders are both adjusting to the prospects of a longer-haul competition. When and where this contest will finish remains to be seen. It still could be decided quickly, if one candidate posts a steady streak of early wins.

But Sanders is counting on a long run. He just proposed that the Democratic National Committee schedule new debates in March, April, and May.

Sanders packed the houses in both Duluth and St. Paul where he spoke about his progressive policies and priorities.

[Keith] Ellison, the congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair who gave the senator rousing introductions Tuesday, suggested that “Minnesota is all about Bernie Sanders.”

Hillary Clinton and her supporters will have something to say about that. Clinton campaigned in Minnesota last month, delivering a major speech on combating terror at the University of Minnesota. She drew loud cheers there, especially when she delivered the line, “If you are too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun—period.” The former secretary of state is backed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and she’s still well ahead in the polls. And her aides say she will be back to Minnesota soon.

But Sanders continues to think and talk long-term.

Sounding very much like a candidate who is thinking long-term, Sanders said in Duluth: “There’s nothing more in this life that I would look forward to than running against Donald Trump."

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