15:29 GMT20 February 2020
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    The presidential race is getting tighter, with primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire raising the heat in the competition for the Democratic nomination. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are currently leading, running neck and neck.

    Professor of Political Science at Barry University Sean D. Foreman explains which candidates have the best chance to win the nomination and what their chances are against President Donald Trump.

    Sputnik: President Trump encouraged his followers in New Hampshire to cross party lines and vote for the "weakest" candidate. Do you agree with Trump's statement that all the Democratic candidates are weak?

    Prof. Sean D. Foreman: Some of the candidates are weaker than others but each has weaknesses that can be exploited by Trump and the Republicans. Sanders is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, which does not play well in many parts of the US; Warren has put out plans that place her on more extreme edges with Sanders.

    Biden's campaign is on life support. Interestingly, Buttigieg is young and lacks experience, and it is unclear how the fact that he has a husband will impact his electoral chances, but we do not see Trump attacking Mayor Pete with the same intensity that he picks on the other candidates.

    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders
    Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders

    Sputnik: What is your take on the view that the Democratic "machine" somehow rigged the results of the Iowa caucuses in favour of Buttigieg? Does he really have that many supporters? What results could he potentially get in other states?

    Prof. Sean D. Foreman: It is convenient that Pete Buttigieg's campaign used the company that built that app as part of their voter outreach efforts, that the app's creators worked with Hillary Clinton's campaign, and that Bernie Sanders seemed to get burned by the lack of clear results in Iowa.

    Yet, it really appears to be incompetence, not an attempt to steal the election. It shows us the problems with using technology to count the votes and it also demonstrates the problem with party activists running the caucus rather than the state bureaucrats.

    Sputnik: According to a Daily Beast piece analysing the chances of Bernie Sanders, Trump's supporters - who think that a "democratic socialist" will be an easy opponent for the US president - are wrong. Why do you think many members of the GOP support Bernie Sanders? What chances does he really have against Trump?

    Prof. Sean D. Foreman: If Bernie Sanders is the nominee, there is likely one of two scenarios. Either Trump will sweep the country with an easy re-election victory. Or, Sanders will build a socialist movement and reshape the electoral map and give Trump a run for his money. The first scenario is more likely especially since the US economy is doing very well now.

    Sputnik: Last year, when Joe Biden announced his candidacy, he became the immediate frontrunner. Now he is not only behind Sanders in the leading position, but he has also lost a large number of African-American voters - his support has plummeted from 49% before the caucuses to 27%. What is the reason for Biden's fall in popularity?

    Prof. Sean D. Foreman: We have to remember that Joe Biden ran for president twice before and didn't get much support. Barack Obama revived Biden's career by naming him as vice president. This also put Biden in a position to be the most respected party elder heading into this presidential campaign.

    But when the "rubber meets the road" and voters start picking their favourite candidate, Biden may end up being popular but not winning the support he expected from a broad swath of voters.

    Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden
    Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden

    Sputnik: What is the reason for the polarisation and discord within the Democratic Party? Why is there currently no single strong candidate among the Democrats?

    Prof. Sean D. Foreman: The Democratic Party has been a circular firing squad for decades. They are their own worst enemy. There is a real debate about the future direction of the party, will they be a far-left or a centre-left party. The far left is tired of the moderation and meekness of party leaders and they are still stinging from Sanders' defeat to Clinton in 2016.

    So there is a real yearning for a progressive candidate and Sanders has built a movement over the past several years. On the moderate side, Biden's campaign is falling while Buttigieg and Klobuchar are surging and billionaire Mike Bloomberg is blanketing the airwaves with ads. There is no single party favourite, no consensus candidate yet, and the primary battle is likely to be a long and bruising one.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Trump 2020, Primaries, primaries, US Democratic Party, 2020 election, United States, Donald Trump, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg
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