by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
February 12, 2016
THE OBAMA GENERATION STEPS UP
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 1 gave us a train wreck on the Republican side and a photo finish on the Democratic side.
As many expected, the evangelical Christians helped Ted Cruz - hands-down the most despised member of the Senate - to a close win over Donald Trump in the Republican contest, with Marco Rubio a close third to Trump.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won by the slimmest of margins - 0.2 percent - over Bernie Sanders.
So, as the caravan of candidates and media leave the land where the tall corn grows, it can safely be said that the Iowa Caucuses decided little, except for convincing Democrat Martin O'Malley (0.6 percent support) and Republican Mike Huckabee (1.6 percent) to end their races.
New Hampshire will do little to clarify things. Sanders is expected to win big, while Ted Cruz has little support in the Granite State and Trump is more likely to finish first.
So, if you wanted a hotly contested presidential primary season and not a coronation, you've gotten your wish.
Although the final results were muddled, the entrance polling from Iowa done by Edison Research for The Associated Press and the TV networks offered some interesting data to chew on.
There are some sharp and significant divisions by age, gender, and politics on the Democratic side.
More than 8 out of 10 Democratic voters under age 30 backed Sanders, as did about 6 in 10 voters aged 30 to 44.
This is what Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America's Future calls "the Obama generation," the voters who helped make Barack Obama a two-term president.
I think of them as the Occupy Generation, the activists who came of age fighting Wall Street and who are willing to keep fighting for a better America.
The numbers flopped in Clinton's favor for older voters. Six in 10 voters aged 45 to 64 supported Clinton, as did 7 in 10 of voters over age 65.
As Borosage pointed out, the mainstream Democratic-linked groups — from the labor unions to Planned Parenthood to the Human Rights Campaign - all endorsed Clinton, as did all of the party power brokers. Yet, that young activist energy battled the establishment to a virtual dead heat.
The polling data showed that Clinton was strongly supported by those who want an experienced candidate, one who could win the White House, while Sanders was strongly supported by those who wanted a candidate who was honest and cares about people like them.
Women were more likely to support Clinton, while men were more likely to support Sanders. Six in 10 moderates supported Clinton, while 6 in 10 who said they were very liberal went for Sanders. The mildly liberal supported Clinton by a narrow margin.
The Republican polling data yielded few surprises. Four in 10 said it was most important that their candidate shares their values. Cruz got the most support from that group.
Trump edged Cruz among the 2 in 10 who wanted a candidate who can bring change, while the 2 in 10 who wanted a candidate that could beat Clinton or Sanders mostly supported Rubio.
The most conservative voters went for Cruz, while moderates backed Trump. The somewhat conservative were split between Rubio and Trump.
As for the issues that drove voters to the polls, government spending was tops among Republicans, with the economy and terrorism not far behind. One-third of Democrats said the economy was the top issue, while roughly 30 percent said health care and slightly less said income inequality. Fewer than 1 in 10 Democrats said terrorism was the top concern.
But this polling data is reflective of how Iowa's conservatives are dominated by the evangelicals. Consider that the last three GOP winners in Iowa were Huckabee (2008), Rick Santorum (2012) and Cruz (2016), and you can see why Republicans are in a panic.
You are going to see awful lot of spin this week trying make Rubio into the anti-Cruz/anti-Trump candidate. But Rubio is slick on the outside and totally empty on the inside. He is no more electable than Cruz or Trump. All three will lose big against Sanders or Clinton.
And that is the central issue on the Democratic side. The party base is shifting to the Obama generation of Democrats who want change, and rejecting the calls of the party establishment is to be realistic and pragmatic.
They hear the elders raising the specters of Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern and Democratic failures of the past. But the young aren't afraid of Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. They aren't afraid of the red-baiters and the smear artists, nor are they scared about the bigots and haters.
They are smart enough to know that Democrats have failed not when they were too liberal, but when they were too moderate. Warmed-over centrism has no appeal to those who've watched their futures be stolen from them.
A Democrat will win the White House in November, but whomever that Democrat is will not get there without the Obama generation in their corner.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and has been an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 35 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.