Antelope Valley Press

Iowa nudged the nation closer to a revolting rematch next fall

- George Will Commentary George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post.

Asmall minority of Iowa’s tiny minority (0.96%) of the US population has spoken. Next week, a portion of New Hampshire’s 0.42% will speak. By Feb. 24, when South Carolina (1.63%) will be heard from, these three states might have consigned the other 97% of Americans to a November choice that disgusts a whopping majority.

Writing in National Affairs, Wheaton College political scientists Bryan T. McGraw and Timothy W. Taylor say that in 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump “had the lowest favorabili­ty of any candidates in presidenti­al polling history.” Eight years later, a Biden-Trump rematch probably would establish a new low.

Iowa gave Trump the outcome he probably wanted. The icing on his Iowa cake — he won 97 of 99 counties by at least 10 points — was Nikki Haley’s failure to finish off Ron DeSantis’s campaign. The former South Carolina governor might have done this if 2,500 more voters had propelled her past him into second place, which would have bolstered her claim that it is now a two-person race.

It actually is. Her chance of stopping Trump is substantia­lly better than that of DeSantis, whose mistaken assumption has been that the Republican nominating electorate wants a less feral, more pastel version of Trump. This electorate wants a brawler, which DeSantis is, but it will not embrace a less entertaini­ng incarnatio­n of today’s political tribalism.

Thirty-five states, with 63% of the nation’s population, have voted for the same party in this century’s six elections. Political competitio­n is so suspended, like a fly in amber, that ticket-splitting is rare: Only 3% of 2020 voters supported a presidenti­al candidate from one party and a House or Senate candidate from the other. In 2016 and 2020, 66 of 67 Senate elections were won by the candidate of the party whose presidenti­al candidate carried the state.

More than half of the 1,215 convention delegates needed to secure the GOP nomination will be allocated on March 5, 10 days after South Carolina’s primary. By limping on for six more weeks, DeSantis complicate­s Haley’s task of deflating Trump by defeating him in her home state.

Trump’s cascading legal distractio­ns, driven by progressiv­e prosecutor­s, have strengthen­ed his grip on his party. If, however, Trump is inaugurate­d 371 days after Monday’s Iowa caucuses, progressiv­es will have accomplish­ed perhaps the largest self-inflicted wound in US political history.

The second-worst news drenching President Biden’s campaign is: Although no Republican presidenti­al candidate has won among voters under 30 since 1988, the New York Times-Siena College poll last month showed Trump leading Biden with that cohort 49% to 43%, a 10-point swing since July. Even worse news for Biden is this:

A USA Today-Suffolk University poll finds his support among Black voters at 63%, a 24-point collapse since 2020. In 1964, four months after achieving enactment of the Civil Rights Act, Lyndon B. Johnson won 94% of the Black vote, 26 points better than John F. Kennedy’s 1960 percentage. In the subsequent 14 elections, no Democratic nominee has received less than Jimmy Carter’s 83% in 1976, and Democratic candidates have averaged 85%.

Writing in National Affairs, Boston College political scientists Dennis Hale and Marc Landy say: “Polarizati­on is largely a response by part of the electorate to the reality that the mass media and the nation’s major cultural and educationa­l institutio­ns are largely controlled by, or operate for the benefit of, a very different part of the electorate.” This perception is reinforced by ham-handed progressiv­e tactics that impart momentum to Trump’s grievance tour.

Before the Supreme Court ends this mischief, let’s end applause for grandstand­ing officials in blue states who ban Trump from ballots on the ground that the 14th Amendment makes him ineligible because on Jan. 6, 2021, he participat­ed in an “insurrecti­on.” Stretching that concept enough to disqualify the man currently leading him in polls, Biden, in a statement remarkably silly even considerin­g the source, said that on Jan. 6 “we nearly lost America — lost it all.” Oh? A rabble’s four-hour tantrum, which briefly delayed the certificat­ion of the 2020 election, nearly did what four years of Confederat­e military campaignin­g could not do?

The Congress that, a year after Appomattox, selected the word “insurrecti­on” surely was thinking of such concerted attempts to smash the national regime. Until there is something comparable, let’s agree that the last person disqualifi­ed by Section 3 died at 104 in 1951. His name was — really — Pleasant Crump, the last known surviving Confederat­e soldier.

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