Previously in this week’s politics…

From my sister, at her Iowa caucus Monday night.

This article’s title comes as a play on the first line of each West Wing episode: “Previously on The West Wing…” This can only mean one thing. The political geek in me is re-watching (re-binging?) this show on Netflix.

Iowa: American voters spoke for the first time last week. If you need a refresher on this bizarre sector of American politics called the caucus, please review my previous post! For the Republicans, Cruz took home a win in a surprising finish. All polls predicted Trump would win, but he placed second, followed by Rubio. The Democratic race was tight. Tighter than my tightest pair of skinny jeans. Hillary squeaked out a win by .3% over Bernie Sanders. My sister attended a Democratic caucus on the campus of Iowa State University. Apparently far more students showed up than were predicted: the caucus room held 140 (by fire code) but 400 showed. She told me that most people were there for Bernie, and she overheard sentiments that included “I wouldn’t be here for anyone else but HE needs me.”

Snapchat from my sister at her Iowa caucus.

Snapchat from my sister at her Iowa caucus.

Rules with caucuses state that if a candidate has less than 15% of the supporters in the room, they are no longer viable, are disqualified, and their supporters must realign. At some point in the evening, she told me that she wasn’t sure if Hillary was going to be viable because there were so many students there for Bernie.

New Hampshire: Saturday’s Republican debate takes place just after the Iowa caucuses and just before the New Hampshire primary, two of the first chances Americans get to make their voices heard on presidential candidates. The debate included Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, and John Kasich. Carly Fiorina did not qualify for the debate, but she was the only one NOT to do so. If you’ve heard the news this week, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee all dropped from the race after the Iowa caucuses.

Additionally: Martin O’Malley also dropped from the Democratic side. The New Hampshire primary is this Tuesday, February 9th.

This recent Republican presidential debate started out, well, very awkwardy. Both Ben Carson and Donald Trump hung to the side during mixed-up candidate introductions. Kasich was forgotten about. None of it made sense.

Moving on from that strange incident…Every candidate is trying to sell their “brand” of conservativism & republicanism. Everyone thinks they are where the party is going. This is why so many candidates have hung in the race for so long.

Trump called out special interests who he says are here supporting Jeb. He proceeds to get booed by the audience three times in two minutes. It’s clear Jeb has been gaining a bit of ground in New Hampshire and it is likely his supporters have populated part of the audience.

There is clearly an anti-Rubio vibe in this debate: from the more “establishment” candidates, Jeb and Christie, and even the moderators, who seemed to be particularly harsh towards him with questions. Rubio finsihed with a strong third in Iowa, and seems to be gaining the most ground out of any other candidate as of recently. Kasich also falls into this “establishment” camp. However, I find that Kasich also doesn’t attack the other candidates quite as much, even when a full-blown circus is going on around him. However, this current vibe among the candidates is what ABC White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl called “revenge of the governors.”

Cruz got into a tough spot regarding waterboarding and torture. When asked if he would bring it back, he said “not in its full use,” which got a small rise from the audience. Trump was simply blatant about it, saying its not quite as bad as the beheadings that ISIS carries out.

This GOP debate carried the usual message of “Hillary Clinton is a criminal, she is unqualified.” But what I find interesting is that the GOP candidates hardly ever mention anything about Bernie Sanders. They’re making it a mission to beat Hillary, but what if she doesn’t turn out to be the nominee? They don’t pay quite as much attention to him. He’s a huge threat, and has picked up a number of supporters after O’Malley dropped out.

Ben Carson has also been struggling in the polls as of recent. He barely spoke tonight, but one of his (very confusing) statements was regarding veterans and the draft: “If we take care of our veterans, there will be no more draft.” Not sure what he was going for here. Should also be noted that a majority of candidates supported letting women to register for selective service.

This week we will get a second look at the voice of the American people as New Hampshire voters head to the polls. Will we see a drastic change, now that three candidates have dropped out in a week? As Marco Rubio stated tonight,

“This is a referendum on our identity as a nation and as a people.”

Stay smart, stay informed. Goodnight!

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