I dread this election.

The mood in this country is ugly, especially on the right, and I have no trouble imagining that we keep following that nastiness down a dark road.

But mostly, I just feel an uneasy sense of weariness about an emotionally draining, divisive election that will at best keep the status quo and at worst completely ruin what’s left of our reputation around the world.

Happy thoughts, right?

I could, of course, just be feeling down after watching the latest round of Donald Trump nonsense. The one happening as I write this is about Trump pulling out of the FOX News debate because he’s apparently terrified of the mildly tough questions Megyn Kelly might ask, or maybe because he’s

That said, here’s what we should expect Monday night as Iowans finally caucus.

First, Trump will win. At this point a Trump loss would be a massive shock that would probably end his campaign. That’s the thing about Trump, I don’t think he can absorb a loss. His whole dubious shtick is built around him being a massive winner, after all.

So he’s going to win Iowa, and when he does the Republican Party will stagger out of bed the next day, look in the mirror, and wonder just what sort of fresh hell they’ve unleashed.

The really interesting race is all about how things shake out behind him. My guess? Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio will both do well, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush finishing a surprisingly decent fourth.

On the Democratic side, I do think it will be extremely close, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will finally win Iowa by a nose. Unlike Trump, though, I don’t think a loss to Sen. Bernie Sanders will sink her candidacy. Clinton is nothing if not stubborn, and Sanders is no Barack Obama.

That said, Clinton has been badly weakened by scandal and relentless attacks from the right. The eventual Democratic winner may end up so badly damaged that they will be in very bad shape come November.

That’s the country’s loss. Clinton has a ton of faults, but she is a ruthless pragmatist and a realist. I feel like we could use one of those as president, and she is basically the only one in the field right now.

What happens in Iowa has implications for Connecticut politics, as well. Many Connecticut Democrats have endorsed Hillary Clinton, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. As a matter of fact, Malloy will be hitting the trail for Clinton in New Hampshire this weekend. He’s http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/connecticut_pols_stump_for_clinton/”>been to Iowa before to stump for her, and Sen. Chris Murphy has done the same in New Hampshire. Malloy has even gone on the attack, criticizing Sanders for being unelectable.

If Clinton does well and Sanders fades away, Malloy, who is the head of the Democratic Governors Association, will be able to go on the attack against Republicans instead of fellow Democrats. But if Sanders sticks with Clinton or even defeats her in Iowa and New Hampshire, that puts Malloy in a very awkward position.

The rumor mill says Malloy is being eyed for a cabinet job in a potential Clinton administration; Secretary of Transportation, say. But if that administration never comes to pass, we’re stuck with the guv for a while longer. Make of that what you will.

So, on Monday night, all eyes will be on Iowa. My fear is that we’re about to see the politics of juvenile name-calling, hypocrisy, bluster, racist nativism, and saber rattling get a big vindication in the form of a big Trump win. That’s the worst-case scenario, and thinking about that is like peering over the edge of a cliff, down into the abyss.

Even if Trump loses, none of the other Republicans fill me with confidence. The Democratic side, on the other hand, contains one unelectable populist with views that feel like they’re as out of fashion as his wild white hair, and one demonized, scandal-ridden pragmatist who can’t escape the long shadow of her husband. It figures to be a very, very, very long campaign.

I’m not looking forward to it. Are you?

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

The title of this column is from the Dar Williams song “Iowa.”

Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.