Dec. 28, 2015

By ALEX ALEXIEV

The Republican Party – with only about a month left before the first primary caucuses, Donald Trump continues his domination on top of the GOP polls everywhere except in Iowa, where he is second to Ted Cruz. He has continued his aggressive, some would say intemperate, style of attacking opponents without any negative influence on his poll numbers. The latest development along these lines followed the end of the presidential campaign of Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. This triggered a fight among remaining candidates for Graham’s supporters, some of whom went over to Bush, but a key one, Congressman Trey Gowdy, became a Rubio supporter. Gowdy had become famous among republican circles as chairman of the House Benghazi Committee, which investigated and grilled Hillary Clinton for her handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 4 Americans, including Ambassador Stevens. Gowdy’s support for Rubio, in turn, occasioned a shrill attack by Trump on Gowdy’s hearings, that upset a lot of republicans and will probably become an issue in the general campaign. In other Trump news, he also slammed former president Bill Clinton for his ‘sexist’ past, as news  circulated that he was gearing up to play a more important role in the campaign of his wife.

The Democratic Party – Hillary Clinton maintains her dominant position in the democratic race, although, surprisingly, Bernie Sanders continues to cling to a lead in New Hampshire. The most interesting news of the week on the democratic side was the reemergence of former democratic candidate,  James Webb as a possible independent candidate challenging Hillary Clinton. Webb had been an official democratic candidate attracting less than 1% support until he dropped out of the race on October 20th. He has now reemerged as a possible independent candidate with a vigorous attack on Hillary Clinton for “foreign policy leadership at its worst,” while, at the same time blasting the National Democratic Committee as little more than an instrument of the Clinton campaign. Webb is a former democratic senator from Virginia and a much-decorated  veteran from the Vietnam war. As such, he served as Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration and is known for his strong support for national security. While it is unlikely that he can generate a lot of support in the democratic party, it should be recalled that even the small numbers garnered by Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential campaign, made possible George W. Bush’s victory over Gore, according to a number of experts.

Latest Polls – According to the poll average of realclearpolitics.com:

GOP national: Trump – 36.5%, Cruz- 17.8%, Rubio – 11.3%, Carson – 9.3%, Christie – 4.2%

Iowa: Cruz – 30.3%, Trump – 26.9%, Rubio – 11.9%, Carson – 9.6%, Bush – 5.0%

New Hampshire:Trump – 26.5%, Rubio – 12.8%, Christie – 11.5%, Cruz – 11.5%, Kasich-9%

Democrat national: Clinton – 55.3%, Sanders – 30.0%, O’Malley – 4.6%

Iowa: Clinton – 51.3%, Sanders – 36%, O’Malley – 5.7%

New Hampshire – Sanders – 49.3%, Clinton – 44.3%, O’Malley – 1.8%