Clinton's White House dream lives despite Bernie surge

2016-02-03 07:21
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (Seth Wenig, AP)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. (Seth Wenig, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York -It may be the narrowest victory in Iowa history, but Hillary Clinton's win over Bernie Sanders puts her on course to clinch the Democratic nomination even if it's more of an uphill battle than she once hoped.

The former secretary of state took 49.8% of the vote compared to 49.6% for Sanders, allowing her to breathe "a big sigh of relief" in the Midwest heartland that ditched her for Barack Obama eight years ago.

"Make no mistake we are in a fight to the finish," she told voters in New Hampshire as the Republican field edged into a three-horse race between evangelical Ted Cruz, billionaire Donald Trump and telegenic Marco Rubio.

Sanders, who just months ago posed no threat as a fringe firebrand, declared a moral victory for his brand of progressive politics, brimming with confidence as polls give him a double-digit lead for next week's primary in New Hampshire.

"For Clinton, it was clearly a case of surviving and advancing," said Dante Scala, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, which hosts the next Democratic debate on Thursday.

"That narrow a win, it's tough to take. I'm sure it's a sigh of relief because I think a loss would have gone a long way to changing the conventional wisdom about Sanders's ability to win the nomination."

The 74-year-old senator from Vermont has inspired a passionate following among young voters with his Scandinavian-inspired anti-Wall Street, poverty busting, democratic socialist agenda.

Clinton loses youth vote

His surge of support may have taken the establishment by surprise, but in Iowa he failed to match what Barack Obama achieved in 2008, when he shocked Clinton by snatching 37.6 percent of the vote to her 29.5%.

"He's clearly someone to contend with, however I don't think he managed, though he came awfully close, to shock the national political media with the results and it was in a state where Clinton did lose eight years ago," said Scala.

Neither would a defeat in New Hampshire ruffle too many Clinton feathers in a predominantly white state neighboring Sanders's home base of Vermont.

"They never voted against anybody from next door except when an incumbent president asked them to do something else," Clinton's husband, former president Bill noted drily at the start of the week.

What is more unsettling, say some, is the support Sanders enjoys among moderate, blue collar Democrats in New Hampshire traditionally expected to vote Clinton.

Perhaps most disconcerting for Clinton in Iowa, was Sanders's crushing victory among Democratic voters aged 17 to 29, who gave him 84 percent of their vote.

The 68-year-old Clinton, by contrast did best among caucusgoers aged 65 and over, a turnout likely to fuel criticism that her message shaped during two decades on the public stage is not geared toward the future.

Elite, minorities back Clinton

But the more decisive test will come in racially diverse states in the west and south, such as Nevada and South Carolina, where Clinton's support among blacks and Latinos is expected to defeat Sanders on February 20 and 27.

"If you look at the national polls thus far, she is pretty consistently and noticeably ahead of Bernie, although the gap is narrower," said Robert Shapiro, political science professor at Columbia University.

"If Sanders can do better than expected in those places, he is going to be in for the long haul."

Others are more cautious about Sanders's performance in Iowa, arguing that he could have expected a clear victory among a liberal Democratic electorate.

"The fact that she managed to eke out even a narrow victory is testament to her campaign's ability to hone its ground game and that will be a huge advantage moving forward," said Costas Panagopoulos, a professor of political science at Fordham University in New York.

Sanders's left-leaning politics also alarms the party elite, who see Clinton as the best prospect of keeping the Republicans out of the White House.

"They don't want Sanders as their nominee and so they're willing to give Clinton the benefit of the doubt," Scala told AFP.

"They're not going to talk down Clinton just because she barely won Iowa. For them they're very happy to say 'a win's, a win, let's move on.'"

Read more on:    bernie sanders  |  hillary clinton  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.