Four more years… until we hear about them again
Yesterday is being pushed as two things: a big loss for Trump and an even bigger win for Rubio. Which is weird because Trump came in second and Rubio came in third. Some guy named Ted Cruz, apparently a Senator from this little state called Texas, came in first. Mostly what will be built out of Iowa is media narrative because the top three (and some say only tickets out of Iowa) got a total of 22 delegates split between them as of the count I saw this morning. The other real consequence will be the elimination of a few stragglers; O’Malley is finally facing reality, and a few Republicans probably need to as well. But nothing (aside from the narrative) really depends on Iowa, and here’s why:
Since the electoral history made by Reagan in 1980 and 1984 Iowa has gone to one Republican: George W. Bush, against John Kerry. For all the talk about the conservatives and evangelicals in the state it went to Obama twice, Gore, and Clinton twice. This is not a conservative state — though, I suppose, you could argue that the Republicans are very conservative.
In addition, while Ted Cruz is my secondary pick (and most of his fall in my eyes has come from his campaigning with Glenn I-Told-You-Years-Ago Beck), winning Iowa isn’t often a harbinger of winning the nomination. Just ask Santorum or Huckabee. The race is going to end up being between whoever wins New Hampshire, Cruz, and whoever is second in New Hampshire. If Cruz and Trump are the top two in New Hampshire it’s game over for everyone else.
It looks like Trump will win New Hampshire, and right now Cruz and Kasich are polling close to tied for second. Kasich is not a realistic candidate and I expect his supporters to flee to either Christie or Rubio, with Rubio being more likely. The media and GOP establishment will do their damnedest to see to it that at least Rubio survives — even if he comes in third again. Somehow it will be a victory.
No matter how New Hampshire shakes out Cruz has a ticket to Super Tuesday. Trump does, too, unless he bombs out there, Nevada, and South Carolina. While the nomination would still be up for grabs the narrative and momentum would be in favor of whoever did well in those three states. Rubio will probably prop himself up through Super Tuesday as well, but unless one of the other candidates gets first or second there I expect many to start bowing out. The more social conservative candidates (Carson, Santorum) might hold on until South Carolina. Rand Paul, being his daddy’s boy, might well stick it out until the convention.
Cruz may have a great plan here. A second or close to it finish in New Hampshire might give him the credibility to go to the Establishment and present them with this: “It’s me or Trump at this point. Pick your poison.” Push coming to shove some of them may well throw their support behind Cruz — I think a lot of that blather about supporting Trump over Cruz, or a Democrat over Cruz even, was a bunch of garbage designed to prop up Rubio (and it appears to have worked).
This leaves out the possibility that Trump has something up his sleeve, too. Given that he’s Donald Trump I would not be surprised if he made a deal after South Carolina that would cripple either Cruz or the top Establishment guy. In fact, given a three way race going into Super Tuesday the man will definitely hobble at least one of his opponents.
The problem with the narrative favoring Rubio at the moment is two-fold. One, his past amnesty support makes him a non-starter for anyone like myself. It is a deal breaker, no go, the end. Second, now all the Establishment guys are going to have their knives out for Rubio. Expect to see Jeb, Christie, and Kasich savage the man between now and next Tuesday. With that in mind, his close finish behind Trump means that the Donald will also be inclined to shib him between the ribs, and if Cruz is looking ahead to courting the Establishment — he’s going to want to knock Rubio off, too, in order to make himself a viable alternative.
Yes, the media is going to push Rubio over the next week. And it’s going to hurt him far more than it helps. Of all the people running for the Republican nomination he’s the one I’d want to be these next seven days the least — other than Jeb, anyway. At least Rubio has some bass in his voice.
Either way nobody is going to pay attention to Iowa again until 2020.