Election Watch - Feb 1, 2020
After a very long run-up, the first votes of the Democratic primary season will finally be cast in just a couple of short days.
The field which once had over 20 candidates has already winnowed to a handful, as polling numbers and donations, ran low. Still standing are the three front-runners (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren), one dark horse (Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg), and a couple of long shots (MN Senator Amy Klobuchar and businessman/NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg).
With the stakes so high, things have turned personal in the past couple of weeks. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have largely been courting the same block of voters. Bernie, of course, is an open socialist and would transform nearly everything about the structure and economics of the country if given the chance. Elizabeth Warren agrees with him on almost every issue of significance but doesn’t use the label “socialist” for herself. Her views are no secret though, and Democrats on the most progressive wing of the party are mostly choosing between the two candidates.
Joe Biden is viewed as less radical than Sanders and Warren, but he no longer seems to be as moderate as he was in the 1990s, a reflection of the Democratic party as a whole. As an example, in a major disappointment to pro-lifers in the party, he joined all the other candidates and abandoned his support of the Hyde Amendment this past summer.
The Hyde Amendment was a compromise position of sorts that kept abortion legal but prohibited federal tax dollars from paying for abortions. All the Democrat frontrunners now state that abortion should be not only legal but that all Americans should fund abortions through their taxes.
In addition, Biden has joined all the other candidates (with the exception of Tulsi Gabbard in her last debate appearance) in stating that abortion should have no legal restrictions at all, even to the moment of birth. This is a position that is at odds with the vast majority of Americans, not to mention unsupported by Scripture. If a child is truly “fearfully and wonderfully made” as the Psalmist said, and created in the image of God, is that any different an hour before birth? This extreme position on abortion is very hard to justify from either a theological or biological perspective.
Joe Biden has retained some differences from those rivals though. For example, he has not joined his more progressive rivals in calling for the abolishment of private health insurance or in calling for complete government funding of four-year college degrees.
So Biden seems to be playing it a little quieter, hoping that Sanders and Warren will split the votes of the far left, and that the remaining Democrats who haven’t turned into Karl Marx devotees over the past three years will show up for him starting Monday in Iowa.
And indeed, Biden had been consistently leading in the Iowa polls for most of the past year -- until recently. One poll still has Biden leading, but two others this past week show Bernie Sanders in the lead, and that is a big deal.
New Hampshire is the second state to vote (Feb 11th), and Bernie Sanders is almost certain to win there. Almost every year, the eventual nominee will win either Iowa or New Hampshire (Bill Clinton was a notable exception.) But if a candidate can win both states, that would be a huge momentum boost and a big step toward the party nomination.
So what does that all mean? Joe Biden needs to win Iowa, or at least stop Bernie from winning. But Bernie seems to be un-slowed by being taken off the campaign trail during the impeachment trial in the Senate. He might win Iowa and deliver a real jolt to Biden.
Bernie Sanders’ voters are the most enthusiastic and loyal of all the candidates. They are still stinging after 2016 where they feel the party rigged the process to nominate Hillary Clinton. After some serious blow-back, the party bosses revised things this year, promising that insiders (called super delegates) will have a reduced role and the voting public a greater role.
So Bernie’s chances for victory are better this year and his supporters know it.
Republicans believe, and many Democrats fear, that Bernie Sanders’ socialist views and communist past will lead to an electoral wipeout when facing an incumbent President with a strong economy. That probably means Joe Biden is the best bet to win against Trump. But there’s another problem. A poll this past week states that Bernie supporters are the least likely to move to another Democrat if he loses. Only 53% said they are certain to back any other candidate against Trump. So Sanders is a problem for the party if he wins, and maybe a problem if he loses. For some, it’s Bernie or bust.
But this is February 1. Come November, will those Democrats really hold firm and vote third party when the other option is a Donald Trump reelection? Time will tell. But Joe Biden (or whoever the nominee is) will need those voters come November.
So watch Iowa. And then New Hampshire. If Biden wins one and Sanders the other, and Elizabeth Warren comes in second in at least one of them, then things are about as expected. But if someone wins them both, that candidate will be the unquestioned front-runner.
And it’s now-or-never for the lesser-known candidates like Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar. They really need a good showing to justify their continued grind through the Presidential primary race. If either of them places 5th or lower in both states, I think that candidate is done.
There are four states voting in February -- Iowa on Feb 3rd, NH on Feb 11, NV on Feb 22, and SC on Leap Day, Feb 29th. The action starts Monday. Let’s be in prayer for these states and our nation as the important task of picking righteous leaders begins.
Caleb Backholm is a contributor to My Faith Votes. Caleb is a married father of three and small business owner. He attended Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN where he studied Broadcast Communications, Biblical Studies, and History. Originally from Washington State, he currently lives in Texas and is a student at Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.
My prayer is that God's children will see the need for being prayerfully informed and active in the "healing" of this Nation, that we continue to be the positive influence in the world that God raised it up to be... when God fearing and God loving people came to this continent to be about His work-of Micah 6:8 & Matthew 28:19, right? II Chronicles 7:14 is to Israel, no doubt. But Isaiah 49:1-6 speaks of the gentile nations being in mind as part of His plan all along, very clearly in my mind according to verses 1 & 6. Not to "replace" Israel, but to be "joined" to Israel, Romans 11:17. And being a light to the nations is what God's people have been called to all along. I pray this "election watch" find it's way into all believer's hands for serious consideration.