Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Trump Train Derails in Iowa

Well, I guess Donald Trump is not a "winner" after all, at least not in Iowa.

Last night a record number of Iowa caucus goers elevated Texas Senator Ted Cruz to victory with 28%.  Trump finished second with 24% followed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio with 23%.  As a result, Cruz will receive 8 presidential convention delegates, Trump and Rubio 7 each, Ben Carson, who finished fourth, won 3 delegates while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who finished fifth and sixth respectively, each won 1 delegate.

Okay, not really.  The Iowa caucus last night was actually a series of county caucuses which actually
Texas Senator Ted Cruz
functions to select delegates for both Iowa's Congressional District Convention and the Iowa State Convention. They are the bodies which actually choose the delegates for the presidential nominating conventions, and they don't always choose the to support the same people that is chosen in the original county caucuses.   But those developments happen way down the road, long after the public has turned its attention away from Iowa and to other states.

Trump led in all the Iowa polls released the week before the caucus.  Last night though not only a record number of people showed up for the Republican caucus, but also a much higher number of them (63%) were evangelical than expected.   None of the polls expected the evangelical vote, which tends to favor Cruz, to be that great.  Also, the polling which was conducted several before the caucus didn't catch last minute shifts in support.  I suspect Trump's decision to skip the last debate hurt him as did Republicans who have continuously pointed out the very liberal positions Trump has taken on issues over the years.

But the caucus process itself also undermined support for Trump.  Iowa employs a 15% threshold requirement for support.  So if in a county Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Chris Christie etc., have the support of less than 15% of the caucus goers, those candidates' supporters have to shift to another campaign to support.  Polls show that Trump is not a popular second choice for many voters, so when those Iowans supporting those other candidates had to shift their allegiance, the beneficiaries were Cruz and, likely even more so, Rubio.  None of the caucus shifting would have been shown in the polls.

I expect that after the New Hampshire primary next week, the race will consist of three major candidates, Cruz, Trump and Rubio.  While the split field has helped Trump's polling in the past, I think the smaller split vote is soon to become his enemy.  Trump has a ceiling on his support more so than Cruz or Rubio.  I think eventually the majority of the GOP vote is going to coalesce behind a single candidate not named Trump and, for the first time, I'm betting that candidate is Marco Rubio.  All along I couldn't envision the the path to Rubio's eventual nomination.  But I finally saw it last night.


Gary R. Welsh said...

It's remarkable that Trump did as well as he did in a caucus state. His campaign did not put together the field organizations presidential candidates normally assemble in caucus states to identify their voters prior to the caucus, making sure they make it to the caucus and managing all of those people once they show up at the caucus precincts to make sure they don't get pilfered by other candidates' field organizers. The viability rule on the Republican side means only candidates receiving a certain level of support get to elect state delegates committed to their candidate, who in turn determine the number of national convention delegates each viable candidate receives. The Republicans cast secret ballots unlike the Democrats, who declare their preference aloud. If a candidate lacks sufficient support, their caucus voters can either chose one of the other viable candidates or leave without voting. Each Republican voter's vote counts regardless of whether his/her candidate received enough support to elect delegates.

Anonymous said...

Iowa is meaningless. Remember President Huckabee?

Anonymous said...

Ted Cruz is a RINO!

Pete Boggs said...

Good call on your prediction Mr. Ogden! Mr. Welsh is right however about Trump- he's in good shape moving forward.

LamLawIndy said...

Paul, question: Won't Jeb Bush -- and the million$ he and Right to Ri$e PAC hold -- go on the warpath against Rubio, hoping to become a viable option vs. Cruz/Trump? I see this as Bush' only path toward the nomination UNLESS one believes the contested convention scenario.

leon Dixon said...

http://buchanan.org/blog/is-a-new-era-upon-us-124686 Seems like Pat isn't taking sides yet but Rubio is Jeb's "pup" and the only candidate the Establishment still owns that has a prayer of being nominated. As in Indiana, folks feel like the Establishment takes care of Itself, it delivers "programs" for the poor, and it sticks the Middle Class with the bills.
I would have lost the bet (a beer) on Cruz v Trump. Cruz gets points for bearding Ethanol in Iowa....I wonder if Hoosiers would gain credit and esteem were he to diss the corn planters of Indiana? The Establishment hates Cruz. They think they can "deal" with Trump. Owning Rubio is NOT good for Rubio as the Establishment's puppet strings are, in the internet age, very visible and, as Pat points out, resented. Trump does have a problem and that is his wealth. Had he gone into Iowa and spent a bunch of money the doing of just that would be very much held against him, in Iowa. It isn't like West Virginia Days when Joe Kennedy bought off every politician who had his hand out for money. Trying to "buy" an election is so yesterday and it is resented...see Jeb Bush Backers who thought his war chest of $120 millions would chase the kiddies off the street?
We will see how this plays out but seems like there is a lot more interest in the Anti-Establishment stance candidates than in the "tried and true and bought and paid for" sorts.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Lam, good question. I think doing that in NH is his only chance. But he might be dissuaded if he thinks Rubio is the only viable option to stop Trump and attacks would tear him down. Guess it depends on his level of selfishness.

Of course we know that he doesn't control what his Super Pac does , right? :)

I've never bought the contested convention scenario though one thing that plays into that is that most winner take all states (like Indiana) are at the end. So it's harder to run out the clock like Obama did in 2008 sitting on a delegate lead. So candidates might not be inclined to drop out...thinking they could win the latter states and close the gap.

Anonymous said...

Paul you are wrong. There was not 15% threshold in the GOP caucuses. That was only the Democrats.

Anonymous said...


Very interesting amount of money for a very small State that otherwise is meaningless.

Anonymous said...


KELO is the law of the land even if it has wrongly been decided.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 10:10,

Not sure what point you're making. First, no one put a gun to Trump's head and forced him to try to take an old lady's house away from her for parking for limos at his casino. He didn't have to do it. Second, the fact is Trump supports Kelo which allows private property to be taken for these type of things. Legislative bodies can put a stop to the effect of Kelo (and many have) and future appointments to the Supreme Court can overturn it. But Trump has made clear Kelo is okay.

There is no defense, no defense whatsoever, to what Trump did. It was shameful.