Despite being down as much as 21% to Donald Trump in some polls, despite (or because of?) record turnout in Iowa (which pundits predicted would mean a Trump victory), despite being savaged by the GOP establishment lining up behind Trump, despite attacks from Iowa’s popular governor, and despite his principled refusal to bow to King Corn and back away from his calls to end corn subsidies…
Ted Cruz emerged victorious in Iowa, completely changing the dynamic of this race.
Last night’s winners:
Ted Cruz — wins Iowa when the odds were against him, and now goes into the South Carolina and Nevada primaries with momentum, high favorability ratings, and more cash on hand than the next four candidates combined.
Marco Rubio —surged late and almost beat Trump for second place, and this can only help him going into New Hampshire. How long will it be before the GOP establishment pressures Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie to get out so they can consolidate around Rubio?
Conservatives — last night proved that having a conservative candidate who is unapologetic in his conservatism, optimistic in his outlook for the future, and who has a history of standing on principle is a great draw at a time when politicians in general, and the GOP brand and establishment in particular, have favorability ratings just below hemorrhoids.
The GOP Brand — this is a mixed bag, because the brand is still much damaged, but it is worth noting that nearly two-thirds of GOP votes in Iowa went for two Cubans and a black man. Meanwhile, the Democrats are running two white septuagenarian socialists who recycle 1960’s hippie populism and class/gender/race warfare. It is the GOP that is now younger, more diverse and optimistic, and which has new, fresh ideas for dealing with the problems facing America.
Last night’s losers:
Donald Trump — with 76% of Iowans voting for someone other than Trump after months of nonstop media coverage, his aura of invincibility has been damaged, and if he doesn’t get a decisive win in New Hampshire, that will only get worse. Trump’s popularity stems, in large part, from his image as a take-no-prisoners winner. Without the consistently conservative (or even moderate) background of Cruz and Rubio, and now without a decisive win when it was expected, Trump risks becoming just another blustery blowhard, the GOP’s version of Howard “The Scream” Dean.
The GOP Establishment — they’re throwing everything they have at Cruz, and he is gaining momentum. Is there anything right now that can do more to raise a candidate’s stock among the base than to be hated by the party’s leadership and establishment?
The pollsters/media — they got it drastically wrong yet again, and the media gets exposed more and more every day for its inherent liberal biases, not only against conservatives, but against the concerns of everyday Americans, of which they are dismissive.
Hillary Clinton — she narrowly beat out socialist Bernie Sanders, although that came after six precincts were tied and decided by a coin toss, all of which went to Hillary. Sanders is likely to win New Hampshire, putting the Crown Princess of Progressivism in a very uncomfortable position. But she will still likely win the Democrat nomination because it’s hard to see how the DNC allows a kook like Sanders, who is not even officially a Democrat, to take Hillary’s rightful place as the standard-bearer of their party.
Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Christ Christie, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum — without a huge surge in New Hampshire, it might be time to call it a day and head back home. Mike Huckabee saw the light and suspended his campaign, and he gets points for doing so in a self-deprecating, humorous way — he said that he is suspending his campaign not because of the votes, but because of illness, saying it was obvious the voters are sick of him.
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