Iowa Caucus Follow Up
by Tom Donelson on February 3, 2016 at 3:26 PM
I knew something unexpected was about to happen in Iowa at our caucus. Our precinct was expecting 170 but 240 showed up. Conventional wisdom stated that this should benefit Trump, but our precinct saw something different happen: Rubio won. Something big was happening.
From the Republican side, it became obvious that it is a three person race between Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, and everyone else should be thinking about saying good bye. Kasich, Christie and Bush want to make a last stand in New Hampshire, but Monday night we saw the unexpected as Cruz won in record setting numbers.
No one would have forecasted that Trump wins 25% of the vote in Iowa or for that matter that he prove competitive with the evangelical votes against Rubio and Cruz. And who would have thought 51% of Iowan Republicans would vote for two Hispanic candidates.
First let's get a few things straight. While Rubio is considered part of the establishment, the reality is that he began his career as the anti-establishment, running against the establishment favorite, Charlie Crist for the Florida Senate seat and is far more conservative than many would appreciate.
Trump finished second in a close election and is still ahead in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and while this election will allow Rubio to garner momentum, Trump is still the guy to beat. Trump's appeal is across the board and not just one faction of the Party, and Rubio is similar in his appeal. Both men so far are appealing to a wider spectrum than Cruz and that gives them advantages in upcoming elections.
Cruz is running a hard edge conservative race which worked in Iowa and could work in South Carolina along with many of the southern states where evangelicals can play a role on Super Tuesday, but he needs to expand his base to win the nomination and eventually the White House.
You have two young candidates who are part of a new generation and Trump shaking up the GOP as both conservatives and Republicans tried to decipher what they want to be as a Party.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are essentially tied for Iowa with Bernie holding advantages in New Hampshire.
Larger voter turnout was supposed to benefit Trump and Sanders but this did not prove to be the case. Sanders drew even with Hillary Clinton but Iowa, like New Hampshire, should have benefitted Sanders, but he managed a tie.
The invisible army of supporters went as much for Rubio as they did for Trump, and Rubio was able to grab late deciders. Part of the problem with polling is trying to garner who is going to vote and many of Trump voters were not as easily to identify as with Cruz or Rubio. Trump additional voters did show up but larger numbers showed up for both Rubio and Cruz. Trump did his job on voter turnout, but so did his opponents.
Don’t count Rubio as a member of establishment but as part of the outsider class along with Trump and Cruz. The GOP establishment didn’t show up here and now it is the anti-establishment who are leading the Party. As for Trump, he actually obtained more votes than any other Republicans other than Ted Cruz, but the bad news for Trump is that the year he obtained the second most votes in the history in the caucus, Ted Cruz set the record. It is impressive for a candidate with a skeleton crew on the ground to get 25% of the vote and come in second. Trump brought in new voters but so did Rubio and Cruz. As for Democrats, half of Iowa Democrats voted for a socialist. Now that says something.