Iowa and New Hampshire are the opening battlegrounds of presidential nominating contests. This year, they have something else in common: dysfunction surrounding the state-level Republican Party.
— In Iowa, the state party is led by Ron Paul acolytes, who have clashed with the more-pragmatic wing of the party, headed by Gov. Terry Branstad. Two county GOP chairs have called for party chair A.J. Spiker‘s resignation, as has longtime Branstad ally David Kochel. Branstad himself has swatted at the state GOP repeatedly, and some Republicans are planning an effort to install new party leaders next year. In New Hampshire, GOP chairwoman Jennifer Horn is already losing her executive director, who started six months ago.
— At the same time, Republicans have struggled to land quality candidates in winnable races in both states. In Iowa, where President Obama‘s approval rating is weak, the GOP has a crowded but unremarkable group of candidates. There’s a growing likelihood the nominee will be determined by a convention of activists. In New Hampshire, no Republican has stepped forward to challenge Gov. Maggie Hassan, while Sen. Jeanne Shaheen‘s little-known challenger doesn’t seem ready for primetime. A long line of qualified Republican candidates have passed on both Granite State races.
— Problems within a state party can cause major headaches during presidential races, as Republicans learned in Nevada in 2012. Lingering problems within these state parties means the traditional powerbrokers will have less influence over the nominating fights, boosting the odds for a grassroots-powered underdog, like Rand Paul.
Over the next few years, presidential contenders will find reasons to visit Iowa and New Hampshire. At the same time, their aides will keep a wary eye on the drama within the state parties.
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Donald Trump's "transition team will meet next week with representatives of the tech industry, multiple sources confirmed, even as their candidate largely has been largely shunned by Silicon Valley. The meeting, scheduled for next Thursday at the offices of law and lobbying firm BakerHostetler, will include trade groups like the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association that represent major Silicon Valley companies."
Today in bad news for Donald Trump:
- Newsweek found that a company he controlled did business with Cuba under Fidel Castro "despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings." In 1998, he spent at least $68,000 there, which was funneled through a consluting company "to make it appear legal."
- The Los Angeles Times reports that at a golf club he owns in California, Trump ordered that unattractive female staff be fired and replaced with prettier women.
In some of the first state-by-state surveys since Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton has the edge in five battlegrounds, according to polls by Public Policy Polling. In four-way matchups, Clinton leads Donald Trump 46%-40% in Colorado, 45%-43% in Florida, 44%-42% in North Carolina, 45%-39% in Pennsylvania, and 46%-40% in Virginia. Gary Johnson doesn't top 7% in any state. Voters in all five states thought that Clinton decisively won the debate.