Stanage “The Clouds Are Darkening for the Democratic Party”

By Niall Stanage – TheHill

Democratic anxiety about the 2020 presidential election is edging upward after a bad few days for the party.

Monday’s Iowa caucuses, expected to be a showpiece for Democrats, turned into a debacle. Results were badly delayed, and the final outcome was still not known late Wednesday afternoon.

The months-long impeachment process came to an end on Wednesday, with President Trump’s acquittal by the Senate.

Democrats can take some measure of comfort from the fact that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) crossed party lines to vote to convict Trump on one of the two articles of impeachment. But the president is sure to trumpet his exoneration in a public appearance at the White House set for noon Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Trump used his third State of the Union address on Tuesday night to lay out his case for reelection. On the same day, his job approval rating hit its highest-ever mark in a Gallup poll.

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Put it all together, and the clouds are darkening for the opposition party.

The results that have trickled out from Iowa increase the chances of a prolonged battle for the Democratic presidential nomination — something that has the potential to be divisive and damaging.

One Democratic strategist who asked for anonymity to talk candidly described the delay in releasing results from the caucuses as a “biblical clusterf—.”

The strategist added, “It confirms the Republican talking point that we can’t get our act together. The bottom line is, if you can’t run a caucus well, how can you run a government?”

At least Democrats will soon get the chance to put the caucuses in the rearview mirror. The New Hampshire primary takes place on Tuesday and will be preceded by a televised debate on Friday.

But the party’s internal divides could become even starker in New Hampshire. The two leaders in Iowa — former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — represent very different wings of the party.

Democratic strategist Joel Payne told The Hill, “I think there is certainly some discomfort within the ranks of the Democratic establishment. Trump is coming off some good news for him — he was just acquitted, even with one Republican defection. I think a lot of Democrats feel unsettled because there is no obvious Democratic standard-bearer.”

The progressives who have flocked to Sanders believe the nation needs fundamental change — and they worry the party apparatus has been too slow and unreceptive to this desire.

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