After several months of preamble, the nominating process to find the next president of the United States officially started this week with Monday’s Iowa caucuses. The theme on both sides of the political divide was of outsiders breaking down barriers. Hillary Clinton became the first woman ever to win in Iowa, while Ted Cruz went one better, becoming the first Latino to win a presidential primary or caucus in any state.
With the New Hampshire primary two days away, it seems this theme will continue, with real estate mogul Donald Trump and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders the unlikely frontrunners in their respective primaries. While the arrival of the outsiders will likely dominate the headlines of Wednesday’s newspapers however, of perhaps more importance to the race is the ‘parallel primary’ taking place within the Republican field: a four-way battle for the support of the establishment.
It has now been eight years since Barack Obama won the first Democratic primary in the 2008 election campaign, opening his victory speech that night in Iowa with reference to those who ‘said this day would never come’:
They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do.
It has been erroneously stated for years that men think about sex every seven seconds. While this is untrue for the general population, when applied to the GOP, it is perhaps an understatement. The past few weeks have seen contraception come to the top of the agenda in the nomination race, Rick Santorum’s major donor Foster Friess arouse controversy by suggesting girls use aspirin ‘between their knees’ for contraception, and even the Girl Scouts coming under fire for promoting promiscuity and the ‘pro-abortion agenda’.
Last night, Rick Santorum, former Senator for Pennsylvania, a man who compares homosexuality to bestiality, a man who considers pregnancy through rape a ‘gift from God’, a man who lost his last Senate election by over 700,000 votes, comprehensively routed frontrunner Mitt Romney in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
Newt Gingrich’s resounding win in Saturday’s South Carolina primary was remarkable in itself, considering Romney’s 25-point lead in one poll held just after New Hampshire; but what was most surprising was the manner of his win. He won over Republican voters attacking unrestrained capitalism, seized the ‘outsider’ label while emphasising his experience in government, and won over social conservatives amidst the revelation that he had asked his second wife for an open marriage. How did he manage all this? With one magic word.
Ranking up there with Mitt Romney winning New Hampshire and bears shunning public lavatories in terms of pure shock, Jon Huntsman has withdrawn his candidacy for the Republican nomination. His supporters in South Carolina will hold a meeting in a phone box later to decide how to proceed.
Yesterday, the voters of New Hampshire went to the polls and acted exactly as they were supposed to. Mitt Romney strolled to victory, Ron Paul fended off Jon Huntsman’s weak attempts to take second, the conservative vote was split almost equally between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and a few people threw a pity vote Rick Perry’s way. But still, there were lessons to be learned: not from what happened, so much as what didn’t happen in New Hampshire.
I first must congratulate anyone who managed to sit through both of the Republican New Hampshire debates this weekend. They seemed to alternate between being boring and nauseating to such a degree that a Keith Moon situation was a real possibility. But what is to be taken from them?
We were told it would be close; in the end it turned out to be the closest contest in the history of the Iowa caucus, with Mitt Romney gaining only eight more of the 122,250 votes than Rick Santorum in second. With such a small winning margin, it is perhaps unsurprising that all of the frontrunners Read More…