Rumors regarding possible Democratic candidates in the 2016 presidential elections began immediately after the 2012 elections, when incumbent president Barack Obama ran largely unchallenged for the party nomination and went on to win a second term. In fact, a possible candidacy of former Secretary of State and New York Senator Hillary Clinton has been anticipated since her 2008 defeat in the nomination race to then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Clinton, who has also been a First Lady of the United States during the two terms as President of her husband, Bill Clinton, was scoring high in midterm exit polls and made her official announcement in April 2015. Other major candidates for the Democratic nomination include former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, former United States Senator Jim Webb, Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Ahead of the Iowa caucus, which took place on February 1, 2016, only three of the major candidates were left on the ballot, namely Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley, with Chafee, Lessig and Webb having already retreated. The caucus results showed Hillary beat Bernie by a very small margin, 49.8 percent versus 49.6 percent of the votes, and effectively pushed O’Malley out of the competition. Simultaneously, polls started showing Sanders, whose progressive stances on social issues have made him extremely popular especially among younger Democrat voters, gain an advantage over Clinton in the subsequent primaries.
The February 9 New Hampshire primary elections have shown the predictions to be true, with Bernie Sanders declaring a sweeping victory in front of his competitor – more than 60 percent of the votes, compared to Hillary’s 38 percent. The following Democratic primaries are set to take place in Nevada on February 20 and South Carolina on February 27.