Well, a counter-revolution on the Republican side, with the billionaire bully boy Donald Trump reasserting his authoritarian appeal over the once Grand Old Party with a smashing 20-point triumph in a crowded New Hampshire primary. The Donald stumbled a bit last week in Iowa, running a primary-style campaign in a caucus state, getting out-hustled by ultra-right Texas Senator Ted Cruz while many would-be Trumpeters eschewed an icy outing for an evening of tedious caucusing.
But now ... heee's baaaack.
Trump's New Hampshire primary triumph vindicates his media-centric campaign and again emphasize the dominance of Trumpism -- his effective hijacking of the aggregated bloc of angry reactionaries largely assembled by Fox News, which ironically now cannot take him down -- in the Republican Party as a whole. The abyss beckons for the professional Republicans who long played dog whistle politics with this profoundly anti-Enlightenment constituency and now have no clear "responsible" alternative to the blow-dried, dyed-in-the-wool mega-opportunist.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders won as long expected. But he may be about to pull a big surprise.
An interesting thing happened over the weekend. After narrow Iowa winner Hillary Clinton cut Sanders's huge lead in half, according to tracking polling, Sanders turned around and pulled some of the vote back. As a result, the Vermont socialist soared to the biggest New Hampshire Democratic win ever beating 2008 NH winner Hillary, 60-38. And more might just be coming.
I've asked before where else Sanders will win besides New England. Well, maybe Nevada, the very next contest state, which caucuses on February 20th.
This, with a substantial Latino vote, should be Clinton turf. Hillary beat Barack Obama there in 2008 and had a big lead in the last public poll there, taken Christmas week.
But, having helped Gary Hart and Jerry Brown take Nevada in years past, it looks to me like there is a Sanders path to victory in the Silver State. And he is making a big move there right now. More in a moment.
Has Trump reasserted his control over the Republican race? Yep. There was no drop-off from his polling this time. If anything, he added a bit on election day. Now he's helped greatly by two things: Divided opposition and a likely big win in the next contest state, the South Carolina primary on February 20th.
Trump's opposition remains divided; no alternative has a head of steam. Iowa winner Ted Cruz finished third. The great fallback establishment hope, Marco Rubio, who acted like he'd won an Olympic gold medal following his third place Iowa finish, faded to fifth in New Hampshire after Chris Christie made the Florida chameleon look like a deer in the headlights in Saturday night's debate in Manchester.
Even Jeb Bush beat Robo-Rubio in New Hampshire, so the would-be Bush III and his remaining pile of dough ain't going away soon.
The distant New Hampshire runner-up, Ohio Governor John Kasich, is probably the only non-ridiculous Republican left in the race. He's a conservative, yet a thoughtful one, worthy of respect. Helped by the likes of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he's not a hater. Kasich is smart and knowledgeable, a capable former congressman and decent governor who knows the earth is not flat and memorably put down the obnoxious wife of a big Republican funder who criticized him for extending national health care to the poor.
Will he do better than Jon Huntsman, the last reasonable Republican who scored in New Hampshire? Maybe. But in the meantime, Trump is running well out in front and fellow falangist Cruz seems well-organized in quite a few upcoming contests.
While the Dems move to the Nevada caucuses on the 20th and the South Carolina primary on the 27th, the Republicans go in South Carolina on the 20th and Nevada on the 23rd.
That means Trump is poised for another big win in a week-and-a-half. If he gets a head of steam going, he will be hard to catch. That's especially so if he gets around to actually organizing his supporters in caucus states, which he doesn't seem to be doing yet.
For all his fabled fortune, Trump hasn't actually spent much money yet. While I have no doubt that the former Democrat, who once backed a candidate of mine, wants to brag about winning the nomination while being outspent by his opponents, he is a somewhat rare super-rich candidate who would actually benefit by spending a lot of his stash.
Still, the Republican rules, unlike those of the Dems, are geared more to winner-take-all than proportional representation. So a Trump blitzkrieg, as it were, once rolling, won't be easy to stop.
Not that Cruz is playing along. He may have real strength in the Confederate -- excuse me, "SEC" -- primary on March 1st. He's raising a lot of money, plus he has some Texas oil shale billionaire who's apparently prepared to spend whatever it takes for the Cruz super PAC.
Stop and smell the bananas.
The big money atmospherics on the Republican side are probably indirectly helping Bernie Sanders.
The emphasis on what the Japanese decades ago dubbed kinken seiji, "money politics," reminds of the Clintons' longstanding highly lucrative relationship with Wall Street, which extended even to the run-up to the present campaign, with the former secretary of state delivering lectures for hundreds of thousands a pop, lectures for which she won't release transcripts.
It all feeds into the Sanders meta-narrative about a rigged financial and political system.
Now Sanders has some counter-rigging of his own. In this conspiratorial environment, his decidedly non-slick manner and democratic socialist message, coupled with some early success against the Clinton machine, have created a gusher of small online donations which I think will enable him to actually out-spend Hillary's campaign in upcoming contests.
On the day of the New Hampshire primary, Sanders placed a million-dollar ad buy on Nevada TV stations. That brings his media buy there to $3.6 million, a couple times more than Hillary.
That's huge in a state of 2.8 million people, little more than a third the population of the San Francisco Bay Area. What Sanders has going utterly dwarfs what previous successful challengers, like Hart and Brown, were able to muster in the Silver State, where labor is divided.
Despite his big deficit in early Nevada polling, the Sanders prairie fire may be on the verge of roaring over the first of the Clintons' firebreaks. Sanders may just be another trend candidate.
Nevada's Democratic electorate is fully one-third non-white (mostly Latino). But, intriguingly, Hillary's campaign is now spinning it as much more white than it is.
There's certainly much more where the big Sanders Nevada media buy came from. Between the time the polls closed in New Hampshire and 12:30 AM Wednesday morning -- even though the Sanders site stalled out some -- Sanders raised an amazing $2.6 million in online donations.
Hillary split Iowa and New Hampshire, as long expected. But the equanimity which should accompany that is oddly absent. The past year has seen a marked improvement for Hillary since her rather inane memoir (Hard Choices was about anything but) and off-putting lecture tour. The e-mail flap is largely unfair and, in any event, the product of years-ago decisions and a massive concerted Republican campaign to stir up a complacently complicit media. All this is baked in.
So why the talk of campaign shakeups, the weekend attacks from older Clinton feminist allies on young women for not backing Hillary, the Bill Clinton speech lengthily and ineffectually excoriating Sanders?
Because they are up against a powerful and compelling message without much message of their own. And they may have missed the chance to deflate Sanders, who, for all his general sincerity and passion on the economy, isn't exactly who his dewy-eyed backers imagine when it comes to the problematic long war and troublesome military spending, as I've mentioned before. Now he is off and running.
The next week will be very interesting.
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