Looking ahead to the Iowa Caucuses on Monday, February 1, IVN predicts that Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders will win their respective caucuses. However, IVN further predicts that the parties will find a way to take these wins away from them.
Every election year, IVN makes at least one prediction about the outcome of a major race. In 2012, IVN called Florida for Barack Obama before any other news outlet. In 2014, IVN projected that U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) was going to keep his seat in a hotly contested race against Republican Carl DeMaio.
This year, though the media reports a tight race going into the Republican and Democratic caucuses, IVN predicts that Trump and Sanders will take the most votes from caucus participants and win their respective contests.
Both Trump and Sanders have strong support, not only from members of the Republican and Democratic parties, but from voters who are fed up with the status quo and feel disenchanted or disenfranchised by the current political system or cannot find a home in any political party.
The Republican leadership has frequently rebuked the candidacy of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders is often at odds with the Democratic National Committee, which briefly denied him access to the party's voter database in December and scheduled a limited number of debates on the weekend, an inconvenient time for a presidential primary debate.
This is why IVN further predicts that the parties will manipulate the private party rules that determine the allocation of delegates, including changing convention rules or going against the will of caucus voters, to make sure Sanders and Trump don't get to eat the fruits of their victories.
It wouldn't be the first time the parties have stepped in to alter the outcome in the nomination process.
In the 2012 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus, Ron Paul officially came in third. However, Paul -- who had a very similar appeal with voters as Trump and Sanders -- had a different strategy than just winning votes. Paul's grassroots-driven campaign encouraged supporters to remain at their polling location after the vote in order to become county delegates -- the first step toward becoming a delegate at the national level.Unlike his primary opponents, Ron Paul played the delegate game, aimed at caucus states, and he played it well. However, reports suggest that
Party leaders argued that Paul hadn't secured majority support in any of the primary states, and therefore didn't deserve the nomination. The party leadership also changed the rules during the 2012 convention to allow the RNC to change convention rules between conventions without the say of party delegates.
Fast forward to the present. Donald Trump is leading in Iowa and several states. While many did not treat him seriously in the beginning of his campaign, it is beginning to sink in that Trump could very well win the nomination if he is able to mobilize his support on the ground.
It is indeed possible that the race for the Republican nomination could last until the Republican National Convention, and there have been reports that elected officials and party leaders within the Republican Party have met to discuss forcing a brokered convention, which happens when no single candidate has secured a majority of party delegates headed into the convention.
Since the party has already shown that they can unseat and replace delegates at will -- regardless of how voters cast their ballot -- an argument can be made that an unsatisfied Republican establishment may insist that such tactics be used to prevent Trump from winning the party's presidential nomination.
In short, the argument from the parties will be flipped this year from their respect for the majority vote in 2012. Delegate rules will matter and the people's choice will be underplayed, away from the public discussion in the media.
Just like the Republican Party, for Bernie Sanders and the Democrats, it will all come down to the delegate count at the Democratic National Convention. However, unlike the Republican Party, the Democratic Party has superdelegates, chosen from elected officials and party leaders in each state, who can commit to any candidate they want, regardless of how primary and caucus voters vote.
According to a report on IVN, more than half of the party's 712 superdelegates have already decided who they plan to support at the national convention -- 359 of whom said they plan to vote for Clinton.
"With more than half of the superdelegates already intending to vote for her, Clinton is beginning the contest with a 15 percent head start in the effort to win the 2,382 delegates needed to have majority support at the July convention — and not a single primary vote has been cast yet," writes IVN independent author Andrew Gripp.
In total, 15 percent of the conventions delegates can commit to a candidate with or without the support of their state's voters, meaning Democratic leaders have significant control over who ends up winning the nomination. By using convention rules and these superdelegates, the Democratic Party could easily ensure Bernie Sanders does not get the nomination.
For any dissenting voice or candidate who challenges the will of the Republican and Democratic parties, the deck is already heavily stacked against them. In the end, the parties may decide that it doesn't matter what primary and caucus voters think because the system currently places the interests of two private organizations ahead of the will of voters.
And as the courts have decided over and over again, the party nomination proceedings are private. So the will of the public, nor the courts, can stop the party from changing the rules to protect their preferred candidates.