NEWTON, Iowa – Joseph R. Biden Jr. has built a head start at the beginning of the month since joining the presidential battle, confidently positioning himself as a Democratic leader and candidate best positioned to defeat President Trump.
Beneath the surface of a seemingly calm race, however, there is a much more volatile competition as a series of primaries within the primaries take place along lines that reflect some of the liveliest forces in the Trump era: race, gender, age and Ideology.
With a historically large field of 23 candidates who appear to be determined, the two African American Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are competing with Mr Biden and other candidates for the support of black voters. Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke, both under 50, are fighting for the cloak of generational change. Senator Elizabeth Warren intervenes in support of Senator Bernie Sanders through the left wing of the party. and six women claim that it is a long time for a president.
"For those of us who are deeply involved in the process, it's easy to get so caught up in it that we forget it. How many people will be prepared for it in this late calendar year? "Said Mr. Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who campaigned like other candidates on Memorial Day weekend.
Regarding Mr. Sanders, he said that besides "the more ideological candidate," nobody "consolidates his support at this time".
Mr. Biden, hoping to stay above the primary struggle, has succeeded in ignoring his rivals and putting Mr. Trump at the center of his election campaign. He keeps a very tight schedule and carefully avoids political risks. At a moment when many in his party are marked by the post-traumatic stress of 2016, Biden's implicit message that he can win has been well received.
Interviews with dozens of party leaders and strategists, however, resulted in a far smoother race than would show Biden's double-digit electoral advantage in the formerly-dominated states, which have overturned so many democratic races over the years had been.
"My party does not like frontrunners," said Paul Begala, former top-presidential advisor to Bill Clinton, almost hinting at this. Every Democratic favorite in recent history either lost the nomination or suffered a shock. "It's going to get worse no matter what."
Democrats say that this is partly due to the fact that much of the Party's energy comes from younger, female and progressive activists, making it unlikely that a 76-year-old, establishment-oriented white man will simply become a male Marching nomination. And while Mr. Biden has so far benefited from the vast field that has divided the opposition, there are already signs that he could face a tougher competition.
In the race for the progressive alternative to Mr. Biden, several polls suggest that Ms. Warren wins against Mr. Sanders, the other Septuagenarian in the race, who finishes second in most polls. And although she has refused to take over the Vermont Senator by name in the last few days, Ms. Warren has repeatedly appeared along with MEP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive force, and sent out an unmistakable signal that she Wants to pursue the Lord. Sanders & # 39; left base.
There is also evidence that many in the party favor a woman as a standard bearer: 31 percent of Democrats interviewed in a new Pew poll said they were "more enthusiastic". About a candidate, a number that rose to 45 percent among democratic women under 50 years old. And in a recent survey by the University of Monmouth, following a series of government abortion bans, three women – Ms. Warren, Ms. Harris and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota – are building up support.
Claire Celsi, a State of Iowa senator, said she had limited her choice to women in the race.
"I see the brilliance of all candidates and I want to shi that's a bit lit," said Ms. Celsi. "Because of what happened to Hillary Clinton, I feel I owe them."
She has already met privately with five of the six candidates, phoned Ms. Harris & # 39; s husband and her influential sister, and will sit down at Ms. Harris' table next month for a big donation dinner for the Democratic Party of Iowa.
In fact, no other state shows primary volatility better than Iowa, where the contours of the last three democratic caucuses changed late in the race. Especially as Barack Obama beat Ms. Clinton in 2008, boosting his rise to a nomination.
When he appeared at a house party in Newton, East of Des Moines, on Friday, Mr. Booker warned the Iowa Democrats about not looking for him. "A savior in this election" and said that 2020 must be something bigger than just dropping Mr. Trump – clear references to Mr. Biden and his message.
In a brief interview after the event, Mr. Booker recalled that Mr. Trump himself had said he alone could successfully meet the challenges of the country. "We have to resist the temptation to force a candidate to solve all our problems," said Booker. According to public and private polls, Biden and Mr. Sanders are currently knotted over the rest of the field, but by that time in 2015, Ms. Clinton had led Mr. Sanders 41 points in a poll in the Des Moines Register. She would win by less than a point.
"There is still a long way to go, and at that time nobody thought that a peanut farmer from Georgia would become president or that a governor from Arkansas would go to win or that a man named Barack Obama could conquer the White House." said Klobuchar.
Voters like Linda Wormley make it clear that it's nonsense to assume that the two current leaders of Iowa will remain as such next February.
wife. Wormley, a retiree attending Mr. Booker's house party, said she had a list of six potential candidates to assist her, but instead of identifying her, she mentioned the two candidates she had excluded: Mr. Biden and Mr. Sanders.
"I'm open to the women and a few men," said Mrs. Wormley, who called the house spokesman to argue that a woman had the best chance of rattling Mr. Trump. "Look what Pelosi did to him," she said.
While Mr. Biden enjoys it In Iowa, organization is crucial to its success, and only now is it building an operation while some of its competitors have already established a more substantial infrastructure.
"He has to pick up the organization," said former governor Tom Vilsack from Iowa. "It requires a lot of people and Warren has a lot of local people and they are good."
The most committed Iowa activists see a more open race than polls, with both female candidates and Mr Buttigieg being frequently mentioned.
"It seems the press and maybe the party has landed on Biden as the top candidate, as Harris, Buttigieg and others are very popular among the Democrats I know," said party leader Marjie Foster in Decatur County. "We're scratching the election information a little because it does not really seem to reflect what the majority of my area of influence feels like."
Sean Bagniewski, the party leader in Polk County, to Des Moines, representing about 20 percent of the state's Democrats, said the sweeping field caused many Democrats to take their time.
"Instead of having a favorite or two favorites, people have three to five favorites," Bagniewski said. "Apart from people who work for the candidates, I know less than 10 people who have decided."
Perhaps no topic in the democratic competition is more touching than the age of the two leaders. In conversations with voters it comes, if polite, again and again. The theme was vividly illustrated in Pew's recent poll, where voters were asked about the ideal age for their candidate: only three percent said someone over 70 years old, and only six percent said they had a candidate over 30 (Mr. Buttigieg is 37). 19659002] Currently, Mr. Biden, who has vowed to restore government dignity and consensus in Washington, dominates the field among the electorate.
"This is a reaction to the fact that people my age do not like the tone and content of this president," said 69-year-old Vilsack. "They want some stability, they want an adult in the room who is tough enough is to beat President Trump. "
But younger voters, Bryce Smith said, Democratic chairman in Dallas County says," The wheel is completely disassembled, and we have to reinvent and rebuild the wheel. " Caucus and high season.
Terry Kocher, the p's chairman of arty's in Humboldt County in northwest Iowa, said he had donated to Mr. Buttigieg's campaign after being impressed by his "serenity, intelligence, balance and wit during the interviews" be said. "Having someone who looks more like you, more like you talking and understanding how you feel will lead us to victory for years to come."
This feeling was evident when Mr. Booker left the house of Fritz and Booker Carol Kramer Friday afternoon. Ms. Kramer said she was excited about him and Mrs. Harris.
"Many of my older friends really like Joe because they think he can beat Trump and they like him because they knew him," she said. "And he's a good person – but I still want some young people and people with color."