2016’s Iowa caucuses were not kind to former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. In fact, Iowa was the death knell of his campaign that never seemed to take flight. Even the one delegate that O’Malley won during the caucus was not enough to convince him to fight on.
This was far from the only disappointment O’Malley faced during his quixotic campaign for president. I spent the summer of 2015 in Iowa working on Marco Rubio’s campaign, but on the first day I arrived I went to an event for O’Malley out of curiosity. The crowd was relatively large (more on that later) at about 35, but the owner of the house constantly referred to O’Malley as “Senator” O’Malley.
In the dead of Iowa’s winter (which is brutal), O’Malley had an even smaller crowd: a literal audience of one, who remained undecided after being the only person in attendance!
O’Malley is likely to run for president once again in 2020, but given his poor showing with Iowa voters he might consider placing his eggs in a different early state basket. That is not the case! O’Malley’s leadership PAC just polled Iowans about their preferences in the Democratic primary, and O’Malley was leading the pack, although this is far too early to have any serious bearing on the election down the road.
The poll, which shows O’Malley at 18 percent of Democratic caucus-goers in a field of nine potential candidates if the contest were held today, also asked the Iowans about New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg; and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. “Not sure” got 32 percent of the vote.
It is obvious that O’Malley is leading this field because it failed to include potential candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Mark Zuckerberg, Sherrod Brown, and even Hillary Clinton!
At this point the poll represents little more than a name identification test. O’Malley spent months in Iowa, Cory Booker has been active in confirmation hearings, and Klobuchar represents next door Minnesota.
O’Malley is nothing if not persistent. If he runs in 2020, he may yet beat his personal record in the Iowa caucus of less than 1%.