Just 99 days now until the 2016 Iowa caucus. Have you begun to pay attention to the presidential campaigns? Are you excited yet about a particular candidate? Does your pulse quicken at the thought that soon, Barack Obama will be out of the White House? GOP candidate Dr. Ben Carson is leading the pack Republicans in the two, latest Iowa polls. Donald Trump is close behind and leads in every other state as well as all of the nationwide polls. Things are so bad for Jeb Bush that he is cutting back on staff and salaries. I guess a $100 million dollars doesn′t get you as far as one might think. Words to the wise for the two top Democrat contenders, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Hillary leads Bernie in most polls and appears to be ready for her coronation. But, as some say, a month in politics can be like a geological epoch. Are people counting their chickens too soon?
Trend lines. That may be the key word in politics these days. Important enough for some of the candidates to bail out already. Lincoln Chafee bowed out this week following Jim Webb′s departure from the Democrat primary. That leaves just the Martin O′Malley campaign which is now on a death watch. O′Malley has never really been above 3% in any of the polls and is going nowhere fast. I predict that he′ll suspend his campaign fairly soon.
Over on the GOP side, the crowded field needs culling. The trend lines there are none too good for most of the pack of the reaming 15 candidates. Jim Gilmore′s numbers have been so bad he was passed over from participating in the CNN debate and now is not invited to this week′s CNBC debate. All four of the remaining ′minor′ candidates are on life support. Of the 10 ′major′ candidates, about four of them have very bad trend lines. Huckabee, Kasich, Paul and Christie all have declining or stagnant numbers at or below 3%. Many are encouraging Rand Paul to bail out and focus on reelection to the U.S. Senate. Both Kasich and Christie, sitting governors, are losing to Trump in their home states. Trump is even leading in Florida topping both Jeb and Marco Rubio.
The Ben Carson surge in Iowa seems to be for real. So far, there has been little conflict between Trump and Carson, but that is beginning to change. At a Florida campaign event, Trump told his audience that Carson is ″super-low-energy″. Compared to Jeb Bush just being ″low-energy″. For the most part, however, Trump and Carson seem to be cordial with each other. We maybe seeing a possible general election ticket here. The key factor in Iowa for Carson is his appeal to the Evangelical voters. Tea Party and Home-Schoolers, too, are supporting Carson in large numbers. Donald Trump has a firm hold on those concerned about the economy and national defense, which includes border security. In national polls, those issues are the main reason Trump is now pushing well into the 30-40% range, widening the gap between him and the rest of the Republicans.
Iowa is a ′funny′ state, hard to nail down. We have seen all too often how the polls can change there very quickly, especially in the last two weeks before the actual caucus. In the last two presidential campaign cycles, we saw how Huckabee and Santorum did well in Iowa but went nowhere fast in the rest of the primaries. In 2008, Barack Obama clobbered Hillary Clinton in Iowa, beginning a slug fest that lasted nearly straight through till the convention.
So are you getting excited now that the Iowa caucus is just 99 days away? Or are you among the average Americans who pay zero attention to politics until after Labor Day of the election year? We′ve got a long way to go until then. The early enthusiasm for Donald Trump, Ben Carson and even Bernie Sanders may make this an interesting election cycle. But has it become interesting enough yet?