Now that the results of last Monday's Iowa caucuses are in, speculation naturally turns to next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
Will Donald Trump fail once again to receive the percentage he's getting in polls? Will Marco Rubio build on his close third-place Iowa finish to overshadow rivals Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie, who have been rivaling him in New Hampshire polls?
Donald Trump was absent from Fox News' Republican debate Thursday night, presiding at his own event seven minutes' drive away featuring cameo appearances by the two previous Iowa Republican caucus winners exiled now to the undercard debate, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. But the issue Trump raised to high-decibel level at his announcement last June was front and center at the main event: immigration.
From someone whose title is senior political analyst you might be expecting a forecast of who will win the Iowa caucuses next Monday night. Will Donald Trump voters turn out in enough numbers to give him the narrow win over Ted Cruz that polls indicate he has now? Will Hillary Clinton withstand the challenge and excitement generated by Bernie Sanders?
But the answers to these questions are, in historical perspective, trivial. By Tuesday noon anyone interested will know the answers, and it will be time to forecast the results of the New Hampshire primary seven days later.
How stupid and vicious do they think we are? That's a question that I think explains a lot of things about politics and society today -- and about this year's unpredicted presidential race.
The "us" in that question are ordinary citizens and the "they" are political and media elites who hold them in contempt -- which they do over and over again by trying to obfuscate and cover up the source and motives of terrorist attacks.
The economy has been staggering, with stagnant or no growth, for several years, after a financial crisis. Loud complaints have been raised against Wall Street financiers and the concentration of great wealth in few hands. Rapid technological development is generating massive economic change, with many old-line jobs vanishing. Majorities disapprove of the Democratic president, as they had of his Republican predecessor.
The race for president is accelerating in high gear, or, rather, the races for president -- in the Republican and Democratic parties, in the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary and primaries and caucuses to come. How's it going? Let's look at these separate races.
In his final State of the Union speech Barack Obama made at least a few bows toward the idea that America is an exceptional nation, an idea he once derided by saying, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks" -- this was before their fiscal crisis -- "believe in Greek exceptionalism." We remain exceptional, he said in Tuesday's speech, as the world's strongest nation militarily and because we're doing better economically than most other large nations.
The Census Bureau has delivered its annual Christmas gift to demographic junkies: its estimates of the populations of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for mid-2015.
Rough and tumble. Hammer and tongs. In the race for this year's Republican nomination, Donald Trump has not hesitated to attack and ridicule many of his opponents, and some of them have teed up attacks on him, only to hold back when they seemed to help rather than hurt him.
Battening down the hatches. That's what America and much of the rest of the world seem to be doing today, in an eerie re-enactment, though to much less of a degree, of what America and the world did in the 1930s. The result then wasn't very pretty. The result now is unknown.
One way the hatches are being battened down is that the volume of world trade has been declining, and not just temporarily, in response to the financial crisis of fall 2008.