I’ve just shaken the dust loose from a night’s sleep and discovered the results of last night’s Iowa caucuses.
Two things jump out at me.
First, Ted Cruz’s victory well might be a hollow one for the Republican Party.
Second, Hillary Clinton didn’t win a thing last night.
Cruz thumped Donald J. Trump — yes, thumped — with a pretty convincing victory in the Republican caucus. Sure, a 4-point win isn’t yuuuge in conventional terms, but this ain’t a conventional election season.
Trump has boasted all those glowing poll numbers and all but guaranteed — a la Broadway Joe — a victory. His two-minute concession speech last night spoke volumes, though, about what happened.
The evangelical vote turned out for Cruz. They came “home” to Cruz, who’s really one of them, unlike Trump, who pretended to be one of ’em.
Why might a Cruz win in Iowa portend trouble for the GOP? He is a patently unlikable man, according to those who work with him in the U.S. Senate. He seems like a dedicated family guy; he might even be someone you’d want to talk to informally.
However, he talks a bit too brazenly about “carpet bombing” the Islamic State and putting “boots on the ground” in the Middle East.
OK, he makes me uncomfortable. That’s clear. It’s my own bias, which I admit to readily.
Clinton declared victory. Is that right? How can she do that? She was tied with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic caucus.
If anyone can declare a “moral victory,” it would be Sanders, the indy/Democrat from Vermont who once trailed Clinton by a zillion percent in the polls. Yet he finished with nearly as many votes and delegates as she did.
Sanders now takes his “big mo” to New Hampshire, which is next door to Vermont. He’ll win there. Then the road show heads for South Carolina.
Clinton had better hope she keeps Sanders within sight as they move into the Deep South. She’ll need the African-American vote to put her over the top as the campaign then moves into some serious regional primary contests, which include Texas, in early March.
Honestly, I was hoping some of the other Republicans would do better. I am pulling for John Kasich to snap out of it; I once had hope that Jeb Bush might get ‘er goin’.
Oh yes, Marco Rubio? He declared victory, too, on the GOP side. He finished third. But that was good enough in young Marco’s mind to declare that he’s the man to beat.
Memo to Marco: You have to get more votes and delegates than anyone else to make that claim.
One final thought: All this analysis of Iowa might not matter.
If the Iowa caucuses are supposed to gauge the mood of the country, then we would have had President Huckabee or President Santorum watching all of this from the Oval Office.
It’s a marathon, folks. The candidates have just made the first turn.