Iowa has spoken and reality has set in. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are the big winners out of the Iowa Caucuses.
Think about that for a second. The party that the Left would have you believe “hates brown people” has just delivered big victories to its two Hispanic presidential candidates.
Yes, the Republican Party sure hates Hispanics.
Ted Cruz used his superior organizing skills to pull in 29 percent of the Iowa Caucus vote and show that at the end of the day, Iowans care about ground game, not theatrics. He’s the outsider candidate who was not as outside as Donald Trump. Now, comes the true test for Cruz – whether he can appeal to New Hampshire voters.
Iowans are far more socially conservative and evangelical than voters in New Hampshire. That’s why Mike Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012, over the eventual GOP nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Does Ted Cruz hold the same appeal to New Hampshire’s more libertarian voters, as he does to Iowa’s more socially conservative? If he does, Cruz is then sitting in the catbird seat and will be a formidable opponent in the remaining caucuses and primaries.
Marco Rubio was perhaps the biggest winner of the night. Final polls showed him in the mid-teens, trailing Trump and Cruz by nearly ten points. Yet, his strong debate performance last Thursday night, as well as, his “slow and steady wins the race” approach to the campaign, helped Rubio show he is a force to be reckoned with. Now, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich have a much tougher slog in New Hampshire. They had banked on using a poor Rubio performance in Iowa and their own strong performance in New Hampshire, as a way to seize the establishment lane. To quote Rick Perry, “Oops.”
Even bigger for Rubio? He has received the coveted endorsement of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) who appeals to all wings of the GOP.
Donald Trump’s campaign was much like one of his properties: it looked good at first, but when reality hit, it was fairly crappy. The Donald and his legion of fans could only see a yuuuge (Trumpese for huge) victory because he had vaguely promised to “make America great again.” When push came to shove, the people who showed up in droves to his rallies didn’t seem to make it out to caucus for their man.
The reality star and showman was much more of a sideshow attraction than candidate with a serious ground game. In fact, for months many noted the lack of a Trump get out the vote operation. This exposes the fact that despite his popularity in the ratings and polls, Trump remains inadequate when it comes to doing what is required of a successful presidential campaign. New Hampshire could very well be different for Trump, but if it isn’t then Iowa can certainly be called the point when voters made America sane again.
Rand Paul, who invested heavily in college students coming out to caucus for him, finished with a paltry 4 percent of the vote. It’s safe to say that Rand has officially lost the struggle to be relevant. He would be wise to step aside and fight for his reelection in the United States Senate.
Onto the Democratic side of things. There is no doubt that Iowa, like her emails, is a disaster for Hillary Clinton. She has gone from nearly 50 points up to tied for the top spot among Democrats. To make matters worse, Hillary was pushed to this point by a self-avowed socialist who has always been outside of the mainstream.
When you look at Iowa 2016 and Clinton 2008, it’s easy to see there is a similar theme at play: Hillary Clinton just isn’t that good of a candidate. She blew the 2008 nomination and will have to scratch and claw her way to the Democratic nomination in 2016. This doesn’t even take into account a potential federal indictment looming over her head.
Now, Hillary is going to limp off to New Hampshire, where Sanders is surging, and face a difficult challenge, as she’s losing to Sanders there. The big question for Clinton is, with almost losing in Iowa and an expected loss in New Hampshire, will it hurt her in South Carolina, where she is expected to perform well. Hillary is “often confused” and tonight’s results will certainly add to her own confusion as to why it’s so darn hard to get Democrats to like her (free advice to Hillary Clinton: be less robotic and more trustworthy).
It bears being said that the lead up to Iowa has been one hell of a fun time. Here’s to the next nine months being just as fun or if not more so.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist and columnist, is president of Somm Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter at @evansiegfried