O’Malley Comes Close to Clinton in Iowa Caucuses

Originally published December 19, 2017

Date: January 2016

(Des Moines, Iowa) Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) came within two points of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in the Iowa caucuses. The caucuses had been a sleepy affair until the last few weeks, when polling began showing a much closer race than expected. Mr. O’Malley secured 46.4% of the delegate vote, while Mrs. Clinton secured 48.7% of the same vote. Other candidates secured 4.9% of the delegate votes. Around 100,000 Iowans voted in the Democratic caucuses.

Mr. O’Malley had campaigned frenetically across Iowa for months. Analysts had expected an easy path to victory in Iowa for Mrs. Clinton, but Mr. O’Malley upset predictions. He secured 58% of the very liberal vote, 45% of the somewhat liberal vote, while Mrs. Clinton swept moderate caucus goers with 58% of the vote, and conservative caucus goers with 64%. The so called “wine and beer tracks” of the Democratic electorate played out, with Mr. O’Malley securing upscale areas, urban areas, and younger voters. Consequently, Mrs. Clinton won more blue collar areas, downscale areas, and older voters.

In her victory speech, Mrs. Clinton alluded to her loss eight years ago, good naturedly. She also ushered in a populist call for reform that she had begun honing in the run up to the Iowa caucuses. She sought to portray her candidacy – as she has been doing in the last several months – as the candidacy of a mother and a grandmother. For his part, Mr. O’Malley called for even more stridently populist and liberal rhetoric, talking up measures to raise the minimum wage, taking on Wall Street, and other liberal economic causes.

The media has portrayed this as largely a victory for Mr. O’Malley. Mr. O’Malley was widely expected to lose by a significant margin, but did not. His candidacy has been given a new lease on life, and the media has begun to descend on the O’Malley campaign seeking new answers about the two term governor. Analysts remembered the 1984 Democratic nomination race, with former Vice President Walter Mondale (D-Minn.) winning in Iowa against Senator Gary Hart (D-Colo.) by a smaller than expected margin, which in turn led to a protracted nomination battle.

Both candidates now go onto the New Hampshire primary.


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