What happens in the Iowa caucus tonight and the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11 will have a ripple effect on which Democratic presidential contenders mount robust campaigns in Ohio six weeks later.
Recent polls in Iowa show a close contest between Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg but a majority of Iowans say they could change their minds before casting their ballots.
The crowded field is expected to dwindle by the time Ohio holds its primary on March 17.
“It could go a multitude of ways. If Biden wins everything, I think it’s done by the time it gets here (to Ohio,)” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat who has endorsed Buttigieg. “If Biden falters and Buttigieg wins, he will keep fighting it out. (New York billionaire Michael) Bloomberg will think he has an angle in — that’s why he has all the stuff in Ohio, he’s counting on Biden to falter.”
Whaley added that Warren has staked much of her campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. “She has the most challenge getting to Ohio right now. We’ll see. It all depends.”
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Iowa and New Hampshire voters are the first in the nation to weigh in on presidential wannabees while Super Tuesday comes March 3 when 14 states hold their nominating contests.
The Super Tuesday contests will make or break Bloomberg’s chances. The former New York City mayor, who has hired dozens campaign workers in Ohio, is largely skipping the Iowa and NH contests and placing his bets on later primaries. In Ohio, the Bloomberg campaign opened a dozen offices and hired roughly 80 staffers.
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Ohio’s primary will be held March 17, the same day as Arizona, Florida and Illinois hold their primaries. The March 17 primaries come after 25 other states will have voted.
Turnout has been higher for primary voting in Ohio during the presidential election cycle.
In 2016, the turnout for the primary that involved Democrat and Republican presidential candidates was 44%. Just more than 2 million Republicans voted, compared to 1.26 million Democrats.
Former Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, who has not endorsed any candidate, said the winner of Iowa or New Hampshire could still fall flat in later contests.
“Politics, especially today, is just so fungible and rapidly changing that we don’t know what’s going to happen Friday and that’s going to impact all of us Monday but only through Monday. The media cycle is so short, our memories are so short that who ever wins — and I suspect it’s going to be Joe Biden in Iowa — could lose New Hampshire and then who knows,” Redfern said. “Does Joe Biden have enough money to survive Super Tuesday and beyond? Could Joe Biden win Ohio? Sure, but I don’t think it’s because of Iowa or not because of Iowa.”
Take this for what it’s worth: A poll conducted by three universities, including Baldwin Wallace and Ohio Northern, from Jan. 8 to Jan. 20, found Biden at 32.1 %, Sanders at 20.8%, Warren at 10.7% and Bloomberg at 10.1% among Ohio Democratic voters.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent, also found that 9.8% of Democrats said they’re unsure who they’d back.
Former Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Rob Scott said he believes Biden, Bloomberg and Warren will last through the Ohio primary but Buttigieg and Sanders may fade. Biden’s name identification and Bloomberg’s millions of dollars will carry them to the Buckeye state while Warren will survive with her superior campaign organization, he said.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Democratic Party invited all the presidential candidates on the Ohio ballot to attend the party’s state dinner in Columbus on March 15. Four years ago, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton each appeared at the dinner event before the Ohio primary.
With most of the attention focused on the battle for the Democratic nomination, President Donald Trump’s campaign announced what it is calling an “unprecedented” surrogate operation, with more than 80 supporters fanning out across the state the day of its kickoff caucuses on Monday
The showing will include a slew of government officials—acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and much of Trump’s Cabinet. That includes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy Devos, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Jovita Carranza, who leads the Small Business Administration.
Also on board will be a long list of elected officials, including Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy. And there will be other notables, including Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, and the inventor of “My Pillow,” Mike Lindell.
The effort will be led by members of Trump’s family, along with his campaign manager Brad Parscale, who hyped the showing as just a “preview of what is to come.”
“This will be the strongest, best funded, and most organized presidential campaign in history,” he said in a statement. “We are putting the Democrats on notice—good luck trying to keep up with this formidable re-election machine.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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