What does Ted Cruz’s Iowa win mean? What are his prospects going forward?
First, Cruz’s top finish tore up the conventional wisdom on a few fronts. In a state dependent on ethanol subsidies, he stood firm against them and won anyway. Lesson: you don’t have to change your principles to get votes.
Second, the record turnout was supposed to benefit Trump; instead, Cruz beat him by four points and received the largest number of votes in the history of the Republican Iowa caucus.
Third, organization trumps (sorry about that) media glitz and big rallies. Celebrity does not equate to victory.
Fourth, personal pique that leads one to withdraw from a debate will not endear one to voters. Trump hurt himself badly with his arrogant decision to avoid being questioned by Megyn Kelly.
Of course, an Iowa win doesn’t carry over to a state like New Hampshire, which is next in line. Cruz benefited from the large number of evangelicals who attended the caucus, estimated to have comprised 64% of all caucus-goers. New Hampshire is more secular. At this point, no one expects him to win in the state, but they are looking to see if Iowa provides enough of a bump that he will do better than expected.
Another factor in New Hampshire is that one doesn’t have to register as a Republican to vote in the Republican primary. I have never understood the logic of that. It should be the committed Republicans who choose their own nominee, not voters who don’t plan to vote for the Republican in the general election.
What will New Hampshire do? Will the Iowa results make them rethink the support Trump seems to have in the latest polls? Or will they be swayed more by his rhetoric of getting things done?
I think we’ve been down that road already. How’s that working out?