Republicans for years built a political base with folks of the very right-leaning belief. Over the last couple of decades, that right has gone even right-er and birthed movements like the Tea Party and elected people like Sen. Ted Cruz who preferred shutting down the government to finding a compromise even with his own party.
Democrats have always had a quite liberal base. That base hasn’t been much happier with its elected officials over the years.
As the two parties played to their bases, the country has become more and more polarized.
Thus, today we have presidential wannabes like Cruz and Vermont’s self-described “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders. So, what if…
…Bernie wins Iowa (not such a long shot anymore) AND New Hampshire, the first two primaries of the year. How does that change the expectation of a Hillary coronation? Twin wins would give Bernie credibility and momentum – key in primaries.
On the GOP side, If Cruz wins Iowa, as it appears, and Trump wins New Hampshire, as it appears, we potentially could wind up in November with a Democratic –Socialist running against an extreme right wing nut.
What does the great middle of the American voting spectrum do then? Stay home? Then we wind up with Sanders or, say, Cruz and as president??
For many years each party has teased its base with promising things it would do to make them happy - and then not do what they promised. This is a political cycle where it’s been proven anything can happen. So, Hillary could lose the nomination and, if Republicans knock out more moderate candidates like Bush or Kasich early, Cruz could pull it off.
It could happen. Liberals will be thrilled with Bernie as their candidate and right wingers would be ecstatic with Cruz.
Does it open a real opportunity for a third party? Maybe. Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is making noises about running third party as is former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Given the choice of Sanders v. Cruz, either might be an appealing compromise.