What Can Iowa Tell Us About New Hampshire?
In our last post we said we thought Pete Buttigieg had a good shot at a breakout moment in Iowa. Turns out that analysis proved correct. While we have no such special analysis to offer this post we did want to offer our thoughts on the lessons from Iowa and things to watch for this evening in New Hampshire.
- The race for the Democratic nomination is quickly becoming a two-candidate affair. The effective tie in Iowa between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg has definitely generated momentum for both candidates, and Buttigieg in particular who has seen a spike in polling in recent days in New Hampshire
- Elizabeth Warren & Joe Biden are in trouble. Both candidates have had to re-allocate their ad spending, an early sign of shrinking donor support. It’s definitely too early to count either candidate out just yet, but the window to put their campaigns on solid footing is quickly closing.
- The big wild card in the Democratic race remains Michael Bloomberg, who has spent so much money on political ads that he is crowding out all other candidates up and down the ballot. The typical campaign would time its political spend to peak close to election time. Bloomberg is spending everywhere and at a high frequency. He’s even seeking to spend in novel areas like micro-influencers. While Bloomberg is skipping early contests, he is also rising in national polling. With a few more contests like Iowa with no clear winner he could very well net some wins on Super Tuesday and emerge as a serious contender for the Democratic nomination for President.
- Contrary to popular opinion, the Democratic infighting between progressives and liberals is putting the eventual Democratic nominee on better footing for the general election. The more the media focuses on Democrats, the less time remains to focus on Trump. If we learned anything from the 2016 presidential election, it’s that Trump’s near monopoly on earned media proved decisive. That the media attention was mostly negative didn’t matter.
- Iowa is unique this year in that we have results for two rounds of caucus voting. Looking at the results, Buttigieg got 56% of gained votes in the 2nd round of voting. That’s a big deal, and it indicates that Buttigieg is probably well placed to gain support as campaigns drop out of the race.
Things to watch for with New Hampshire results:
- Can Pete Buttigieg extend his demographic appeal beyond higher income, white voters? New Hampshire is over 90% white and has a median household income fully $14K above the national average. Buttigieg should have done well in New Hampshire, even before the results in Iowa. But can Buttigieg show some in-roads into the admittedly small New Hampshire minority and lower income communities? We’ll be watching county results in the north, south-west and eastern parts of the state for clues.
- Can Bernie Sanders expand his base outside a mostly younger and ideologically progressive crowd? Sanders has had a problem making in-roads in the less progressive wings of the Democratic Party since the 2016 election. Even small gains here could prove decisive. We’ll be watching counties in the southwest part of the state, where older voters disproportionately reside.
- Will Democrats come out and vote? We saw big turnout numbers in the 2018 elections for Democrats across the country, yet voter turnout for Iowa last week wasn’t anything particularly spectacular. Does this trend continue? While only a fool would conclude anything from voter turnout numbers on their own, they’re still useful data points for evaluating in context.
Happy New Hampshire Primary day!