Rather than hover around watching Fox News or CNN’s live coverage of the Iowa caucus, I watched episodes of “Firefly.” Something about a TV show that follows the adventures of smugglers trying to get the hell away from an all-encompassing, centralized, intergalactic government just seemed fitting to me.
Every now and then, I would go onto Twitter or Fox’s website to see how things were going, but then went right back to the crew of Serenity.
When I finally officially checked in, Ted Cruz had been declared the winner and the wrinkled old socialist and her competitor were duking it out in a unbelievably close race.
There were a few things that struck me about what happened in Iowa.
First, the turn-out. We were told that if there was a huge turnout, Trump would win by five to ten points. There was a record turnout on the Republican side. Over 180,000 people participated. What is that, about fifty or sixty thousand more than the previous record? It appears that the turnout did help, but it helped Cruz. And, frankly, I think it really helped Rubio who came within a breath of beating Trump out of second place.
But more importantly, notice where all the traditional “political class” candidates finished. Leave aside Marco Rubio (who some call “establishment” or “GOPe” or whatever else is the derogatory term used to describe someone who is controlled by these shadowy, cigar-smoking masterminds whose only function in life is to go against the will of the people and get their guy in the White House). By more “traditional political class” candidates, I mean the “You have to have a governor with a proven record blah blah blah.” And those guys, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Chris Christie were in the bottom half of the field. Jeb lost to Rand Paul, you guys — by more than three thousand votes.
This tells me that Iowans at least, are pretty much finished with the polished turds that make up the preferred candidate class of the RNC.
Also consider this, of the over 180,000 votes cast last night in the Iowa Caucus, almost 138,000 of those votes went to someone other than Donald Trump. More than 75% of Iowa Caucus-goers rejected the Trump Train. For weeks now, I have been saying that, if we go by polling, between 65-67% of Republicans do not support Trump. In Iowa, when people actually went and voted, that percentage was closer to 76%.
Sure, it could be an outlier, but it may also indicate that Donald Trump has gone about as far as he can go and has reached the peak of his base of support. Now, that doesn’t mean that Trump can’t win other states. I think he probably could win some. But I do believe that it is a clear indication that when the field begins to shrink (hopefully after New Hampshire, but definitely after South Carolina), Trump will find himself just one of a few in very competitive races. And if that percentage holds true and 75% of voters do not want him, he won’t win many states.
Here’s something else to consider. Not long ago, I mentioned that the South Carolina primary is an open primary. Democrats can choose to sit out their primary and vote in the Republican one instead, and vice versa. At the time, I suggested that many Democrats, because their nominee was all but certain, may choose to skip the Democrat Primary and vote in the Republican one instead. In fact, I posited that if Trump wins South Carolina, it may well be because Southern Democrats chose to vote for him in the open primary.
But with the photo-finish between Clinton and Sanders last night, I suspect that Democrats in South Carolina aren’t going to want to skip their own primary because suddenly they have a real horse race on their hands. Had Clinton won handily by a wide margin, a projected loss in New Hampshire would have been more palatable for South Carolina voters. But this “barely there” win coupled with the fact that Sanders will more than likely secure a win in New Hampshire will mean South Carolina Democrats are going to want to stay within their own primary to help decide the Democrat candidates’ fates. If that’s the case, Trump may not get much of a boost from Democrat crossover voters in South Carolina.
As I said a few months ago, I expected Huckabee to drop out after Iowa because the only reason he stayed in this long was to see how he did in Iowa. I didn’t expect him to drop out on the very night of the caucus. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rick Santorum follows suit in the next day or so. I can’t imagine Santorum believes that he has a chance to do well in New Hampshire. I guess it will all depend on how much of Santorum’s campaign is based on ego and how much is based on the fate and future of our Republic.
The more moderate Republicans, Kasich, Christie, Bush and Fiorina, won’t drop out before New Hampshire. I doubt any of them expected to do well last night. But they are all hoping for a good showing in New Hampshire.
But here’s the thing. With Marco Rubio coming closer to second place than Trump came to first place, I would say the die has been cast among the “establishment.” They found their candidate last night. And it wasn’t Bush who couldn’t even get into the top five. My guess is, Rubio will get the biggest bump out of Iowa because of that. Let’s face it, right now the “establishment” is split between Rubio, Bush, Kasich and Christie. Rubio receiving over forty-three thousand votes (nearly four times what the other three received combined) leads me to believe the three also-rans will be set aside in favor of him.
This is only the beginning. One state down, forty-nine remain. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Iowa Republicans never pick the eventual nominee.” But most conventional wisdom is useless right about now. Iowa Republicans also never turned out at these levels. No one caucus winner has ever received as many votes as Ted Cruz did last night. In a caucus where so much was unprecedented, precedent may be useless here.
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