Hillary Clinton gave a commanding performance last night but she has yet to face a strong oppositionby Harry Lambert / October 14, 2015 / Leave a comment
There are two things that anyone vaguely political knows about the US election: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two men widely dismissed as joke candidates (sound familiar?), are threatening to beat Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees. Pundits are excited because polls suggest Sanders, a self-declared socialist, could beat Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire: the first two states to vote when the primaries begin in the new year.
Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected victory in the Labour leadership election has been noted by mainstream Democrats in the US. Like Corbyn, the 74-year-old Sanders is a left-wing outsider who is threatening to upset the established candidate. The similarities between the two ageing socialists go further—Sanders also boasts significant trade union support and wants to raise taxes, break up the banks, help students financially and build a national health service in the US. Just as Corbyn so successfully mobilised activists to pack out venues across the country, so too is the Vermont senator filling stadiums with over 20,000 supporters. But, there is one glaring distinction between the two life-long rebels—while there was no standout candidate to counteract the Corbyn surge, Sanders faces a formidable opponent in Hillary Clinton.
Last night’s Democratic debate confirmed that it is unlikely that Sanders will replicate Corbyn’s success. An ability to fire up the party faithful is not enough to earn you the chance to campaign for the most powerful office in the world. For Sanders to become the nominee he must win in the big states, which offer far more votes, and to do that he must start to win over the moderates who will decide places like California, Illinois, New York, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio; these seven states alone account for nearly 40 per cent of delegates. Iowa and New Hampshire account for 2 per cent.
The US system is nothing like the UK’s. Only a fraction of Labour voters voted in Corbyn’s leadership election: just over 420,000 cast a vote, when 9.3m voted Labour in May. That’s 4.5 per cent of the party’s support.…