Meaning in the Meaningless | February 2, 2016
First of all, nothing that happened in Iowa last night was statistically significant. In the case of Hillary Clinton, literally a couple of coin flips could have given the victory to Bernie Sanders. Cruz, Trump and Rubio were at or near the margin of polling error. Given that, there are realities of the campaigns that have been revealed. Ted Cruz won Iowa. He spent a lot of money. He had a huge organization. His campaign also played a little fast and loose with the viability of the Carson campaign. These are all things that happen in campaigns.
Donald Trump lost. This is important because of all the apologists out in force today can’t accept that he lost. Those excuses are grim solace for a few reasons.
- Cruz had to work hard to win and Trump hardly spent any money. Donald Trump is not Rachel Ray and he’s not starring in “Campaigning on $40,000 a day.” He chose to skip Iowa, then came back. He’d better be ready to spend some money because ground game is going to become a big deal in a few weeks.
- Trump got second place without a ground game. Trump lacking an organization adds to his street cred, but will slowly kill him. The Democrats are masters at ground game. He’d better fix that if he expects to run a national campaign.
- Cruz used dirty tricks. Donald Trump is willfully denying that Ted Cruz is an American citizen. He did the same taunting to Obama and Obama is still president. Cruz’ tricks are dirtier and more effective. Plus, Donald is kind of a big baby.
- Cruz is going to get destroyed in New Hampshire. That’s entirely possible. I’m more interested in keeping Trump from running the table early than Cruz running the table. Trump is #1 in New Hampshire with only 38% of the vote. Better than Cruz, but not a mandate.
- Trump got just as many delegates as Cruz and only 4% fewer voters. I promise one delegate will not decide the nomination. What Iowa does is break the spell of the unstoppable Donald Trump. He can be beaten and Trump’s support has a relatively low ceiling. The further this campaign gets, the less likely the supporters of other candidates will want to vote for Trump after he insults them over and over.
For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton tied Bernie Sanders for all intents and purposes. Chances are she will lose New Hampshire decisively. She does, however, have good prospects in big southern states like South Carolina. For the next month, it will be a real fight and Hillary will have to try to beat Sanders rather than sit and wait to be nominated. However, O’Malley dropped out. If his votes went to Sanders last night, Hillary would be singing a much sadder tune.