Editorial: Great Expectations for the Iowa Primary

Polls show a close race between the parties. Will there be surprises?
Editorial: Great Expectations for the Iowa Primary
Precandidatos republicanos a la presidencia 2016.
Foto: Jim Lo Scalzo / EFE

Finally, after many debates and opinion polls, Iowa voters will officially kick off the long process to elect the next U.S. President. The caucus’ choices will not determine who will be each party’s candidate. However, its importance lies in the fact that, for the first time, we will be able to see if the polls reflect the reality in an election that already has presented surprises.

All eyes are on the Republican turf, which in the last few months has seen internal divisions among moderates, conservatives, evangelical conservatives and Donald Trump. Iowa will show the impact of Trump’s popularity as he has capitalized on the white working class anger at their own diminished economic prospects, and their frustration over politics. It remains to be seen if the millionaire’s unconventional strategy will lead him to victory.

Latino Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who are competing for the evangelist and anti-immigrant vote among Iowa’s Republicans, are behind him on the polls. Cruz presents himself as a purebred conservative, while Rubio is trying to steal Cruz’s voters by showing that he is more religious and tougher on immigration than him. He also aspires to be the candidate to unite the Tea Party and the Party’s establishment.

Further down in the race, there is a series of contenders who might be the major news story of the day if they ended up the first three spots.

Democrats have a less crowded, if no less interesting, primary. The crowning of ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems threatened by the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders and his progressive agenda. As in 2008, her candidacy is failing to rouse the necessary enthusiasm among the Party’s base. The Democratic establishment fears that Sanders, a self-proclaimed Socialist, will be Hillary’s new Obama.

This is a season of political discontent that, so far, has yielded unpredictable results. Today, the possibility of a presidential election between Trump and Sanders still looks far away, but not as absurd as it did 6 months ago. Candidates defying political common sense have risen in the polls, and today we will see if these figures will materialize in Iowa’s caucuses.