Democratic presidential hopefuls are now scrambling for last minute votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, in what is a changing political landscape, according to Virginia Tech political primary expert Caitlin Jewitt.

“It is critical, but not do or die. Iowa and New Hampshire used to be considered king-makers, in that they determined who would be the front-runner in the nomination,” said Jewitt. “Increasingly people are noticing - and the campaigns are calling attention to the fact that Iowa and New Hampshire are not representative of the American population or the Democratic Party. These are small, rural, predominantly white states. Some of the candidates hope to hang on until South Carolina, where they can prove that they can win among African Americans.”

Jewitt says the candidates need to do at least as well as expected in the states that should be strong for them. If these candidates can’t win, or do very well, in these states, then their chances of winning the nomination go down.

“It is important for Buttigieg that he wins or does very well in Iowa. It is important for Sanders that he does very well in New Hampshire. It is important for Biden that he win South Carolina since he is seen as the most popular candidate among non-whites,” said Jewitt. 

Jewitt has recently published a book on the topic, “The Primary Rules: Parties, Voters and Presidential Nominations” (University of Michigan Press), which illuminates the balance of power that the parties, states, and voters assert on the process.

Quoting Jewitt

  • “Traditionally, Iowa and New Hampshire have served to winnow candidates from the race. Candidates will drop out shortly after. That may not happen as quickly this year, as candidates want to hang on to reach the more diverse states.”
  • “Super Tuesday is also more diverse in 2020 than it was in 2016. In 2016, Super Tuesday was dubbed the SEC primary because most states were southern states with SEC schools. This year, California and Texas will vote on Super Tuesday in addition to Alabama, Maine, and ten other states. About 35% of delegates will be awarded on Super Tuesday.”
  • “The constitution doesn’t even mention political parties and it doesn’t mention anything about how we nominate candidates for office. The parties make their own rules and as the saying goes, ‘those who make the rules win the game.”

Read Caitlin Jewitt’s Bio

To secure an interview with Caitlin Jewitt, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.

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