And the Winner of the Democratic Primaries Is … Donald Trump
The fervent speculation in the media — Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg? — misses the point. There was, in fact, a clear winner of both the Democrat Iowa Caucuses and the Democrat New Hampshire primary: It was President Trump.
The catastrophic breakdown that prevented the Iowa Democratic Party from reporting the complete results for the better part of a week allowed both Sanders and Buttigieg to claim victory in Iowa, but the lack of an official outcome also prevented either of them from enjoying the momentum boost that an Iowa victory normally confers.
Not that a victory in this year’s Iowa caucuses would be much to brag about. A mere 170,000 voters participated— about one-third fewer than in 2008, and barely over half the 300,000 voters some Democrat leaders were expecting. The fact that turnout was roughly on par with 2016 is another troubling sign for Democrats — in the subsequent general election, President Trump trounced Hillary Clinton in Iowa, racking up a nearly 10-point margin of victory en route to a convincing Electoral College win.
The highly anticipated rematch between Sanders and Buttigieg in New Hampshire hardly went any better. Although the Democrats managed to match their 2016 turnout, that wasn’t a particularly impressive feat — while this year’s contest was highly competitive, making every single ballot meaningful, the 2016 New Hampshire primary was a cakewalk for Sanders. The results didn’t do anything to clear up the divide within the Democratic Party, either, since Sanders and Buttigieg once again emerged with an equal number of delegates.
Meanwhile, Republican voters once again rallied behind the president in New Hampshire, handing him an overwhelming victory that underscores the unprecedented degree of unity within the GOP. Donald Trump racked up about 10 times as many votes as the second-place candidate — and even though the outcome was a foregone conclusion, he still managed to draw an astounding 120,000 voters to the polls. That’s more votes than any incumbent president has received in the New Hampshire primary in the past four decades.
The main takeaway from the first two Democrat primary contests, therefore, has very little to do with which candidate received the most votes. Iowa and New Hampshire revealed that none of them inspire any real enthusiasm among voters, while all of them alienate at least one major faction of the Democrat base.
Radical leftists such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren terrify moderate Democrats almost as much as they enrage Republicans and independent voters with their socialist policy agendas. So-called “moderate” candidates such as Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, are still well to the left of the American electorate, yet they’re also reviled by far-left extremists who view them as traitors to the progressive cause.
As the dust settles, it’s clear that President Trump is the only presidential candidate who can credibly claim victory in the first two primary contests. While the Democrat candidates jockeyed for position amid the botched Iowa results and vilified each other throughout the lead-up to the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump remained above the fray, reminding voters that there is a competent, trusted alternative to the radical Democrats vying to run against him.