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Assault on America, Day 366: One month and counting ‘til Iowans cull the Dem wannabe herd

Cory Booker Iowa
One month from today.

Upon seeing this, many folks will glance at their calendars to see what the heck I’m referring to -- and notice that one month from today is February 3… so what? … is it the Super Bowl? Regardless, we’ll certainly hear a lot from the media in the coming weeks about the fast approaching Iowa Democrat caucuses which will take place in ice, snow, rain and/or darkness on that date. Hawkeye State liberals, climate change nuts, union leaders, abortion proponents, government goodie grabbers, identity-politics purveyors, Donald Trump haters and maybe a stray hanger-on to the “old” semi-sane Democrat party will venture to their meeting places, hear spiels from the various campaigns and then cast preferences between the candidates.

Somebody somewhere will tabulate the votes -- it’s complicated, not simply a matter of this guy wins, this gal loses -- and a winner will be announced to reporters and TV news show hosts. The Iowa system is uniquely American and one place where having especially motivated, well-informed and articulate supporters can make all the difference in the final outcome.

According to Wikipedia, “Each precinct divides its delegate seats among the candidates in proportion to caucus goers' votes. Participants indicate their support for a particular candidate by standing in a designated area of the caucus site (forming a preference group). An area may also be designated for undecided participants. Then, for roughly 30 minutes, participants try to convince their neighbors to support their candidates. Each preference group might informally deputize a few members to recruit supporters from the other groups and, in particular, from among those undecided. Undecided participants might visit each preference group to ask its members about their candidate....”

There’s much more to the process and well worth the few minutes’ read to try and figure out what really happens on Caucus Night, but for now, the Democrat presidential candidates are prepping for the home stretch. As has been demonstrated over and over again, Iowa certainly won’t decide who will be the party nominee or next president, but the corn and soybeans paradise will most definitely cull the dead weight from the field.

For the length of time candidates spend every four years in the first-to-vote state, there’s quite a lot of opportunity for the midwestern-to-the-core residents to get to know them on a personal level. And if you’re not smart, sensible or charismatic enough to make a mark with the Iowans, you’re probably not gonna do well on a national scale either. As revealed by the caucus description above, candidates need advocates at each of the political meetings (i.e., broad-based support), not mere fence-sitters who draw your name out of a hat at the last minute.

And for those Democrats not doing well in the polls, it’s desperation time. This certainly describes the flailing campaign of Senator Cory Booker, who’s dumping what’s left of his cash-on-hand into an Iowa ad blitz to try and jumpstart his comatose political crusade. David Sherfinski reported at The Washington Times, “Sen. Cory A. Booker rolled out a new strategy in Iowa on Monday to finally get his presidential bid noticed, launching a six-figure TV ad buy and front-loading his resources in the state that holds the nation’s first nominating contest.

“But the New Jersey Democrat is racing the clock to qualify for the next debate Jan. 14 and break though with voters before Iowa’s caucuses Feb. 3. The 60-second ad, which started airing in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids areas, overlays images of Mr. Booker with his positive rhetoric about the unquenchable ‘spirit’ of the American people.

“’The call of this election is the call to unite in common cause and common purpose because we know that our fates are united, that we have a common destiny,’ Mr. Booker says. ‘And as your president, that’s how I will move us forward together.’”

Huh? As the last semi-viable minority Democrat in the field (yes, Andrew Yang and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (who?) also remain, but they’re not going anywhere), Booker is grasping at straws attempting to replicate Barack Obama’s last-minute Iowa surge in 2008. I’m not privy to Booker’s internal campaign strategy, but it’s clear that identity politics is playing a significant role in his last-ditch dash.

His thinking could be summed us as thus: One, Barack Obama is black; Cory Booker is also black. Two, they’re both senators from liberal blue states and therefore can do and say pretty much anything they want to in their day jobs and not worry about ever being turned out of office. Three, Obama won over Democrats in ’08 with his airy “Hope and Change” rhetoric, which didn’t promise anything specific yet filled the personality-obsessed party base with visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads.

Hence, there would seem to be room for an “I’m a black guy who promises sunshine and geniality and who prefers games where each participant wins and everyone is super nice to each other” candidate. Or is there?

Booker’s undertaking a similar route to Obama’s since none of the other “lanes” have even a smidgen of an opening. Dearly departed (from the Democrat race) Sen. Kamala Harris tried waging a hybrid campaign of high-minded ideals (“Kamala Harris for the People”), leftwing fusionism, a few nods to centrists (“I was a tough prosecutor who served the citizens of California”) and, of course, a ton of overt panders to the kook fringe (“I am Kamala Harris and my pronouns are She, Her and Hers.”). It didn’t work. With other candidates already registering stronger in their corresponding ideological categories, Harris couldn’t claim a definable base of support. She flopped.

Booker is experiencing the same type of political malaise and it’s highly unlikely his ad blitz will change the dynamic, especially in Iowa, which has apparently fallen for the carefully crafted middle-of-the-road message of South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The Real Clear Politics Average shows Buttigieg with a solid lead in Iowa with Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren taking slots two and four, respectively. Old musty and dusty Joe Biden is doddering along in third position, which indicates his comically labeled “No Malarkey” Iowa bus tour elevated his status at least a few points (or could it be people are abandoning Warren?).

The New Jersey senator can’t even claim fifth place, as “favorite daughter” (from Minnesota, close enough) Sen. Amy Klobuchar occupies that space, but with only about a third of Biden’s tally. Further, Booker’s sixth place standing comes with a special notation, since he’s at less than three percent and hasn’t yet qualified for the next Democrat debate, which is on January 14. If Cory can’t somehow get on stage with those considered “viable” candidates at that point, maybe he should just hang up his suits and join one of the other campaigns as a mouthpiece.

Booker’s TV commercials aside, he’s not really known for anything that distinguishes him. Bernie Sanders may be a senile old coot, but he’s established his brand as an unapologetic message-carrying socialist who hates corporations, billionaires and anyone who has more money than he does (which is actually a very, very small percentage of the population. Sanders’ net worth is estimated at $2.5 million -- not bad for a guy who’s been a politician his whole life). Similarly, Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren is renowned in Democrat circles for her pie-in-the-sky “plans” to cure political ailments. She’s drawn about half the hardcore ultra-leftist vote thus far because she’s a “she” and looks and acts much younger than Sanders.

Buttigieg, meanwhile, has created a beachhead as the young and upcoming Democrat in 2020. “Mayor Pete” seems to have an answer for everything, including why he partakes in “wine cave” fundraisers with liberal billionaires to sustain his campaign. If anything, Buttigieg is a lot closer to Obama in political selling points than Booker is. Pete is as pale as the other frontrunners yet his status as the first potential major party LGBTQ member gives him a special quality to the uncompromising “what they are” versus “who they are” party voters. Listen to him speak and you instantly recognize he’s no moderate, yet compared with Sanders and Warren, he seems to be.

And as time passes and Buttigieg remains near the center of debate stages, his national viability and electability will only increase. Biden clings to his strong backing from black Democrats and those who couldn’t care less about what a candidate stands for as long as he or she is viewed as being capable of defeating President Trump in November. Grampa Joe looks more ancient and feebler by the day, but about 30 percent of Democrats love him anyway because he’s thought to be ahead of Trump in the polls. And, as Obama’s VP, he’s got party establishment support.

Translation: Biden doesn’t scare the crap out of the Democrat elites. It’s like Hillary Clinton four years ago. Everyone knew she was an awful, unlikeable wretch who repelled those who weren’t instantly wowed by the Clinton name, but they chose her anyway. Hillary’s “Stronger Together” message resonated with those who thought more with their hearts than their heads.

Poor Cory Booker can’t even count on the Democrat establishment’s blessing. He may have a winning smile and present himself as a likeable guy, but he just ain’t got it where it counts -- with the voters.   

Then again, Iowa is known for political surprises, or “cyclones” which come out of nowhere. Will next month produce another one? Henry Olsen wrote at The Washington Post, “There are two obvious cyclone possibilities in 2020: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Sanders might seem to be an odd choice, because he has run before and is a national figure. But as a candidate with a significant following and large budget who hasn’t yet caught fire, the socialist firebrand fits the Kerry-Huckabee-Rubio mold. One can easily imagine progressives turning to him out of hope just as younger moderates turn to him out of despair over the alternatives.

“Klobuchar could be the Edwards or Santorum of this race. Like them, she has slowly risen in Iowa polls, outlasting more heralded candidates such as former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.). Now in fifth place with a bit over 6 percent in the polls, Klobuchar would be the sort of person whom moderate or liberal Democrats could turn to if they are uncomfortable with the leading candidates. The average Iowa cyclone gains 19 points in the last month. Klobuchar would have to gain only 16 to be in first place.”

Olsen’s is an interesting theory -- and he does have history to back him up in some respects, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider a Sanders win next month in Iowa to be an out-of-nowhere “cyclone.” If Democrat leftists decide ahead of time to unite behind Sanders instead of splitting with Warren, “The Bern” could easily vault into the top spot. And Klobuchar has exhibited no signs of pulling a John Kerry (’04), or Rick Santorum (’12) this year.

For Klobuchar to gain so much so fast she’d have to take from both Biden and Buttigieg. The (literally) shaky Gopher State senator doesn’t have that kind of pull.

Time will tell if there’s another Iowa shocker on the horizon in next month’s Democrat caucuses. Polls are up and down in the state, though opinions seem to have stabilized around the top four competitors. With impeachment still up in the air, the outcome could still be in doubt. We’ll find out soon enough.

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