Political Scientists Cast Doubt on Warren After Third Place Iowa Finish

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/02/07/political-scientists-cast-doubt-on-warren-after-third-place-iowa-finish/

Amid all of the confusion and technology problems from the Democratic Party’s Iowa Caucuses, it appears as though Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren finished third in the race.

The first event of the 2020 presidential primary season was supposed to be a one-night event for both parties. However, as of Friday morning, with 99.9 percent of results reported, it was still unclear who won the race:  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. They both had earned slightly more than 26 percent of the delegates.

Warren appeared to be the clear third-place finisher, beating former Vice President Joe Biden and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Warren appears to have earned about 18 percent of the delegates, higher than Biden’s 15.8 percent support and Klobuchar’s 12.3 percent.

The question now is:  what kind of an impact will this Iowa performance have on Warren’s campaign headed into the New Hampshire primary? New Boston Post got perspectives from three political scientists.

Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, told New Boston Post that he thinks Warren’s campaign is essentially finished.

“Warren’s third place finish means that she is on the outside, looking in at the main story in New Hampshire, which appears to be a battle for first between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders,” Scala wrote in an email message.

Last month, Scala told New Boston Post that the media will likely portray the New Hampshire race as a winner-take-all event for candidates from neighboring states like Warren and Sanders.

A recent WBZ/Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll showed Sanders leading the New Hampshire primary race with 25 percent support and Buttigieg in second with 19 percent. In the same poll, Warren was in fourth place (11 percent), just behind Biden (12 percent).

Historically, there has never been a major party candidate from a state neighboring New Hampshire who lost the state’s primary and went on to earn the nomination.

Dennis J. Goldford, a professor of political science at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, says New Hampshire is crucial for Warren, but he did not say Warren has to win New Hampshire to stay competitive.

“Remember that Iowa is less about delegates (1.1% of total pledged delegates) than about an indication of relative standing in the eyes of Democratic activists,” Goldford wrote in an email message. “Warren’s apparent third-place finish in Iowa, despite having had a reputation for having perhaps the best organization in the state, puts more pressure on her to finish in the top two in NH in order to continue her campaign.”

Karen Kedrowski, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, provided an entirely different line of logic:  Warren’s third place finish in Iowa might not matter all that much because of the major distractions this week — including the primary’s technical difficulties, President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, and the president’s acquittal in the U.S. Senate bringing an end to impeachment. 

“In a typical year, this might have been devastating news for her, but it’s not a typical year, so she’s very fortunate,” Kedrowski told New Boston Post in a telephone interview. “If there hadn’t been the huge snafu with the delegate counting dominating the news cycle, it would’ve been all about Pete Buttigieg in a positive way and the typical, paranoid Sanders statements about whether people had stacked things against him.”

“And then, it would’ve been how Warren underperformed and Biden took, as he calls it himself, ‘a gut punch’,” she added. “Instead, it’s just lost in all of the noise. The news cycle right now is just overwhelming. She got lucky in a sense.”

Additionally, Kedrowski pointed out that Warren being a Massachusetts politician could help her more in New Hampshire than Sanders being a Vermont politician. She said that’s because much of New Hampshire is in the Boston media market – and not in the media market of Burlington, Vermont.

“I would expect that New Hampshire Democratic voters are going to be very familiar with Warren,” she said. “I’m not sure why the media narrative is that New Hampshire is Sanders’s to lose other than he won it four years ago. The difference is, Warren was not in the race.”