Why the Democratic race could outlast GOP primary battle: Analyst

A crowded Republican presidential contest had pundits raising the specter of a brokered Republican National Convention as early as last fall, but after the Iowa caucuses, it looks like Democrats will be the ones slogging through a long primary fight, Guggenheim Partners' Chris Krueger said Tuesday

Guggenheim's senior policy analyst spoke after Hillary Clinton's campaign declared victory over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the nation's first presidential nominating contest, the Iowa caucuses.

But The Associated Press called the contest a virtual tie. With all precincts reporting, Clinton led Sanders by less than three-tenths of 1 percent, it said.

"I think the moral victory of the Sanders campaign against Hillary is going to have a bigger impact in terms of the length of the Democratic race," Krueger told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

That's because unlike Republicans, Democrats don't hold any winner-take-all primaries, which award all of a state's candidates to a single victor, he said.

Despite Sen. Ted Cruz's victory in Iowa, Krueger said, the Republican race could come to a screeching halt on March 15 if Florida Sen. Marco Rubio prevails in winner-take-all contests in Ohio and in his home state, Krueger said that looks increasingly likely after Rubio turned in a surprisingly strong third place finish just behind No. 2 outsider Donald Trump.

"Without any winner-take-alls on the Democratic side and Bernie continuing to run up numbers, you could see the Democratic race now actually going much longer than the Republican race," he said.

Heading into next Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, Sanders is gaining momentum in his neighboring state.

He has the support of 57 percent of likely Democratic voters versus Clinton's 38 percent, according to the last NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released on Jan. 28. That spread marks an increase of 15 points from the last poll on Jan. 10.

Clinton will likely be the Democratic nominee, Krueger said. But as the race stretches out, she will have to continue to spend money, tack left on policy issues and choose someone from the progressive wing of the party represented by Sanders as her running mate to unite the base, he added. All of that could hurt her in a general election.

Robert Johnson, chairman of RLJ Companies and a longtime friend of the Clintons, said Tuesday he believes Sanders will not ultimately get the Democratic nomination because his brand of democratic socialism will not play in the wider party.

However, Clinton needs to speak less about her resume and more about her personal reasons for seeking the Oval Office, he added.

"What Hillary needs to do is to personalize her quest for the presidency," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Thus far, the campaign has focused too much on Clinton's past positions of power — as first lady, senator and secretary of state — and the historical nature of a Hillary Clinton presidency, Johnson said.

Her bid to become the first woman president isn't enough to get her elected, he said.

"The country sees the presidency as an instrumentality for improving the quality of life, serving the public interest, and Hillary has to explain why she is best qualified to take that mantle of power, that executive instrumentality that the Constitution created and turn it into what she believes this country needs to solve its problems," he said.

Clinton also needs to stop telling African-Americans how bad a Republican presidency would be for them, and express what she would do to lift them up, said Johnson, who founded the Black Entertainment Television network.

She must inspire young women to accomplish their goals, as well, rather than simply position herself as a smart, mature woman, he added.