In Iowa, I was assigned to work with the Ben Carson campaign, but after realizing that the Carson campaign was nonexistent for the first in the nation primary, I was reassigned to the Ted Cruz campaign. As the President of the Wake Forest College Democrats, Political Director of the College Democrats of North Carolina, and fervent Bernie Sanders supporter, this was quite the experience, and quite different than anything else I had experienced in my life.
While some people questioned how I could work with a candidate whose views are diametrically opposed to my own beliefs, I found it a worthwhile challenge. I spend a significant portion of my life working with Democrats, campaigning with Democrats, and socializing with Democrats. For the first time in my life, I stepped into a Republican campaign office. It was not as different as I would have expected it to be. Just like I would passionately phone bank supporters of progressive candidates in previous elections, these supports of Ted Cruz worked tirelessly in search of victory for their candidate.
Even though I disagree with most, if not all, of Senator Cruz’s talking points, I took these points in stride, and tried to convey them to voters in a positive light. Since I was working for Ted Cruz, I was ready to leave my beliefs at the door, and attempt to share the passion of these Ted Cruz volunteers. I tended towards talking about how Ted Cruz would stick to his values, and would be a strong counter weight to the Republican establishment, two talking points I could sell myself on. I sat next to a couple of Cruz supporters who had traveled many miles to volunteer for the Cruz campaign. Sam, who I conversed with for much of the morning, was visiting Iowa from Texas, and there was another nice older woman from Ohio sitting on my other side. While the room didn’t have the racial diversity that I’ve become accustom to seeing when volunteering for Democrats, there were many Republicans from old to young, who were interested in seeing Ted Cruz get elected.
With a couple hours before caucuses begin, I don’t know what I expect going into tonight. I talked to many Ted Cruz supporters who were optimistic about their chances, but looking at popular media, I’ve come to expect that Donald Trump is destined for victory. I’ll predict Trump with a modest seven-point victory over Ted Cruz, 30-23, with Marco Rubio placing third around 17 percent. Unfortunately, I think tonight marks the end of the road for many campaigns we’ve come to enjoy. I don’t see Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, or Rand Paul’s campaigns continuing on to New Hampshire. I also think this primary victory is going to swing a lot of momentum to Donald Trump. I truly believe that Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee.
On the Democratic side, I’m high on Bernie’s chances tonight. I think this is truly the start of a revolution, and it begins with a victory in Iowa. I hold the DMR in high regard, and seeing Hillary up three there made me question my original opinion, but I’ve seen energy on college campuses and among millennial voters. I think we’re ready to surprise some people and vote in larger numbers than the experts predict. I’ll predict Bernie with the modest upset (after getting O’Malley’s supporters) 49-47-4. This delegate math will be tough though. I’m feeling nerves very similar to 2008 at this point. I was an Obama supporter from early on in 2007, and joined the Bernie bandwagon a little later after being inspired by his message of inequality at an event in Arlington, Virginia this past summer. The Democratic side will be a little more difficult to predict going forward, if Bernie can come out tonight with a victory. I think he’s destined to do well in New Hampshire, and I believe that he can close the deficit with Hillary among Latinos and African-Americans, making Nevada and SC competitive. I’m not ready to say I expect 2008 all over again, but I think this could get interesting fast if Bernie wins tonight. Whoever wins though, I’m proud to be a Democrat. I don’t see my support of Bernie as a condemnation of Secretary Clinton; I see it as a way to explain to the Democratic Party that I expect the party to prioritize the issues that Bernie has spoken about on the campaign trail, in 2017 and beyond.
I’m excited to see results come into tonight though. I look forward to sharing more with everyone later!
Go Deacs, Go Blue!