While former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg may have claimed victory at this week’s botched Iowa caucus, the real winner, according to statisticians, was Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator is now by far the favorite candidate according to bookmakers. Oddschecker, a betting comparison app, surveyed eighteen different gambling sites and found every one declaring the democratic socialist the clear frontrunner. Real Clear Politics has also had Sanders as its favorite for over a week, as Bernie surpassed former vice-president Joe Biden, who performed poorly in the first caucus of the year. The runaway favorite in October, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren has crashed, her likelihood of overall victory dropping from 53 percent in the fall to just 7.5 percent today.
Perhaps most notably, statistics and politics website Five Thirty Eight predicts that Sanders is the favorite to win in all 50 states, suggesting he will receive over 200 delegates in California alone – twice the total of any other candidate. This is all the more surprising as Five Thirty Eight’s Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver is a conservative, describing his politics as lying between Mitt Romney and Gary Johnson. The site also has a history of downplaying or underestimating Sanders’ chances.
No matter how much mainstream media attempts to spin the results, Iowa has many of those in the establishment very worried, to say the least. Writing in New York Magazine, self-described liberal Jonathan Chait was beside himself with worry and was unsure what the best plan of action was to stop the Sanders surge. “One strategy would be to rally around Biden, on the grounds that no other candidate has or will have his name recognition and ties to black voters. The other strategy is to hope his campaign collapses as quickly as possible, so that another contender can emerge,” he wrote. “At the moment it is not clear which strategy makes sense.” He bemoaned the lack of coordination from the Democratic establishment to oppose the Vermont senator and claimed that other “center-left” candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar simply do not have the backing of black voters, making a South Carolina victory very unlikely. He also wrote that Mike Bloomberg might be liberals’ best-case scenario for victory, even though he felt he was just another long shot.