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Wed Feb 3, 2016, 08:20 PM


The fractures in America’s political landscape have been exposed


...The Democratic and Republican Iowa results have three things in common.

  • First, they are an undeniable and unequivocal rebuke to the party establishments. Cruz, an ideologically driven pious Texas senator, whose grandstanding in the senate has irritated his colleagues, is far more loathed by the Republican leaders than Trump. Add the 52% they got between them to the 9% who backed Ben Carson – the brain surgeon who claimed pyramids were for grain storage and called Vladimir Putin a “one-horse country” – and you have almost two-thirds of Iowans rejecting anything close to a consensus candidate who could unite the party...Clinton had name recognition, money, a former president-husband, a previous presidential run and virtually the entire party machine on her side. This was supposed to be a coronation in which Sanders was cast as the jester: but it’s beginning to look more like regicide.

  • Second, the insurgent wings of both parties are redefining the contours of American politics. In 1999, after the release of his film Bulworth, I asked Warren Beatty if he was a socialist. He wouldn’t go near it. “Ideology seems to be so unfashionable,” he said. “So why not take advantage of it and not name oneself with a term that has become particularly problematic.” A poll earlier this month showed that 43% of Iowa Democrats defined themselves as socialists. We have no idea what to compare that with because it’s simply not a question anyone would have asked before Sanders came on the scene...Among Republicans, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a young, telegenic candidate whose unexpectedly strong third place showing will make him the establishment favourite, has been cast as a moderate. That’s true if you compare him to Trump and Cruz, although judged by that yardstick Ronald Reagan and George W Bush would be moderates, too. But Rubio, an anti-abortionist and foreign policy hawk, was the Tea Party choice for Mitt Romney’s running mate just four years ago.

  • Third, we are now set for two long races stretching well into spring. The Republican race is fairly evenly split three ways between Trump, Cruz and Rubio; now that Sanders has proved himself viable some will now take a second look. The polls have not served us well thus far, but they predict that both Sanders and Trump will win New Hampshire next week, resetting the dial and recalibrating expectations. It is unlikely that either party will have settled on a nominee by Super Tuesday...


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