After months of campaigning, the Democratic candidates running for president will take their first test with voters in Monday’s Iowa caucuses as the large field looks to gain momentum in the race for the nomination.
The first-in-the-nation contest has drawn a slew of candidates to the state, and according to former President Barack Obama’s campaign architect David Axelrod, the stakes are high for virtually all of them, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
“If Joe Biden finishes first or second, he’s going to be the nominee of the Democratic party,” the former campaign strategist and current CNN contributor said. “If he finishes in the back of the pack, I think there’s an element of uncertainty that’s been injected.”
While candidates like Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are looking for a big night in the caucuses, one notable candidate will not be competing, as former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is skipping the first four contests in the primary calendar.
He has been one of several candidates who have met with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, looking to win her endorsement ahead of Illinois’ March 17 primary.
“Obviously it’s not enough as a Democrat to be different than Trump,” she said.
Bloomberg is instead focusing on buying TV ads in states later in the race, likely in an effort to win the attention of voters who haven’t seen ads for other candidates.
“I think the Bloomberg strategy is very much resting on Biden failing in these first four races, leaving the center left lane open for him,” Axelrod said.
With most of the attention focused on the Democratic race, Republican Joe Walsh is hoping to make a statement on Monday, even though President Donald Trump is expected to claim victory in the caucuses.
“It was so important that a Republican stand up and say ‘this guy is unfit,’ and a lot of my former colleagues feel that way,” Walsh said.
The winning candidates in the race won’t have much time to celebrate their win, as the New Hampshire primary looms on the calendar on Feb. 11, eight days from the Iowa caucuses.