As the election year finally begins, new developments on the campaign trail have dominated the news cycle. In previous issues of The Yellow Jacket, we spotlighted several candidates and gave our readers more in-depth information about their campaigns. Now, The Yellow Jacket is going to focus on the new and ever-changing developments on the campaign trail as the primary season heats up.
The congested Republican field has narrowed a bit in recent months. Former Party hopefuls such as Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush, among others, have all suspended their campaigns in response to poor performances in the early primaries and caucuses. The campaign suspensions will prove to be an important part of the upcoming Party developments as certain alliances may emerge and surge the remaining candidates’ influence within certain demographics. The first events of the election year have set the stage for what will be a very interesting cycle. In the Iowa caucuses, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton won by a sliver in a tight battle with Independent senator Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, who has been on Clinton’s heels in the previous months and has legitimized his presidential run, virtually tied with Clinton with a polling score of 49.3% to Clinton’s 49.6%. This poll gave the Sanders campaign a lot of momentum going into the New Hampshire primary which Sanders won single-handedly, as per popular prediction. As a result of the competitive race at the top, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley decided to suspend his campaign for the Democratic nomination after the Iowa results came in.
On the Republican side, Ted Cruz earned a surprisingly solid victory in Iowa polling at 27.6%. This came after a successful GOP debate performance from Cruz during the same debate in which Donald Trump did not participate as a part of his ongoing feud with Fox News correspondent Meagan Kelly. The bypassed participation in the debate proved to hurt Trump, but not too significantly as he still polled at 24.3% in the Hawkeye state.
Marco Rubio came in at 3rd with 23.1%, which gave his campaign good momentum while heading into New Hampshire. Additionally, unsuccessful polling from Fiorina, Bush, Rand Paul, and John Kasich took steam out of their campaign efforts. The next two states to vote, South Carolina and Nevada, made their opinions known quickly thereafter. Hillary Clinton regained momentum and solidly won Nevada after spending a lot of her time focusing on her appeal to the African American constituency.
In South Carolina, Donald Trump regained his top spot among evangelicals and easily took the state with 32% of the vote. Marco Rubio narrowly edged Ted Cruz by winning South Carolina’s two biggest congressional districts. Trump’s victory came after weeks of speeches and campaign messaging that contained very aggressive rhetoric which pointed to the War on Terror and ending illegal immigration. He was able to side step the criticism he received from Pope Francis, and prevailed in the very crucial conservative base.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are both vying for a second place finish leading up to the Republican Primary this summer. Both candidates are under the assumption that, if given the opportunity to go
head-to-head with Donald Trump, they will be able to contrast the radical Trump well enough so that they may convince more moderate Republicans of his absurdity yet still keep the loyalty of more conservative Republicans. With all the media attention around the Trump campaign, be on the lookout for Rubio and Cruz to work in the shadows and hit the campaign trail very hard in the coming months.
Hillary Clinton has taken an overall delegate lead in the Democratic race 52-51. The lead may not be substantial, but it has earned her some breathing room heading into the Democratic primary in South Carolina. Bernie Sanders has been surprisingly successful among young voters who do not trust Hillary Clinton. Sanders, who has been quoted as saying that he wants to stay away from a negative campaign, attacked Clinton following the loss in the Nevada caucuses by claiming that she was copying his message and, contrary to her campaign’s rhetoric, she has indeed benefited from the Wall Street donations that the Sanders campaign condemns.
There are many important primaries in the coming weeks that will be crucial to the continued spring momentum in the races of both Parties. There are a staggering total of 15 primaries and caucuses across all American territories on March 1, including our own state of Virginia.
Colleges in the area are polling and some of your favorite candidates will be in town campaigning. Bernie Sanders will be in Norfolk, and John Kasich will hold town halls at George Mason, UVA, and VCU in the next week. Be on the lookout for voting locations in the area, and if you are a registered voter, go out, make your voice heard, and vote!
-Sean Ryan ’18, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor