I don’t have a whole lot to add that everyone else isn’t saying. Good for Cruz, good for Rubio, not good for Trump.

How bad it is for Trump is uncertain, but no candidate in recent memory has put so much stock on “winning” and so I wouldn’t be surprised if it made an unusually large dent. Fortunately for him, he has quite a cushion in New Hampshire and so he can still lose a chunk of support, come out on top, and be able to brag about being the Comeback Otherkin. Helping him further is that two of the next three early contests are primaries, and thus Trump will be less reliant on the ground game he doesn’t seem to have and there will be less friction for outsider participation.

On Cruz, I think people are underestimating the importance of this victory. It was not entirely unexpected, but it was necessary. That Trump ended up much closer to Rubio than to him makes it even better. The two-man race between them has gotten more interesting, and he will no longer be criticizing Trump (to the extent that he does) from a position of weakness. It may also help him weather what is likely to be a weakish showing in New Hampshire, to get back down to South Carolina where he is more likely to do well. Cruz didn’t overperform by too much, but he met some important expectations.

Some are irked about Rubio claiming victory despite getting third place, and his victorious posture could indeed backfire. But the reason he is getting the attention is that he really, really outperformed expectations. Further, he did it despite being the recipient of an unusually large number of attacks in a state where, up until a few weeks ago, he hadn’t been paying much attention. He’d been staking his claim in New Hampshire, but his people seemed to wisely make the determination that to succeed in New Hampshire he needed to separate himself in Iowa, which he did. The two man race became a three man race.

There is still room for one more. There were four major candidates in both 2008 and 2012 once the ball got rolling. On the other hand, one of them was Ron Paul in each case. So three is the more likely number, and the above are most likely the three.

Not much to say on the Democratic side. It’s still Hillary’s race. The degree of trouble she seems to have with races she should win might should trouble Democrats, but it is not seeming to. Which is probably just as well because it’s pretty unclear what they can do about it now.

So, in review, primaries are terrible because Donald Trump. Not having (competitive) primaries are terrible because Hillary Clinton.

Choose your poison.

Category: Statehouse

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5 Responses to So, The Iowa Caucuses Happened

  1. SFG says:

    Yeah, most of the arguments for the Electoral College are arguments for groups usually voting Republican (small states, rural people) to be represented. Changes in things like primaries and districting are always bound up with the winners and losers in each particular case.

    I’m just waiting for the Democrats to be handed a victory in the electoral college so we can get rid of it.

    • trumwill says:

      Oddly, the EC presently favors Democrats… and Republicans don’t care. The small-state advantage does favor the GOP, but the distribution of votes appears to favor Dems. Romney was four points down in the national vote, but six points down in the state that would have tilted the election. That probably doesn’t mean that he would have needed to pick up six points nationally because a disproportionate number of the pickups would have been from Ohio/Pennsylvania/Virginia/etc, but he probably would have needed more than the four.

      With regard to the EC, it’s important to know that *most* states actually benefit from it. If I recall, it’s something like 17 are hurt and 33 are helped. So there! (That being said, I’m down with a national popular vote.)

      We almost had the best opportunity in 2004. If Kerry had won Ohio, and lost the national vote, that would have been two elections back-to-back with two different losers. Both parties would be open to it and the public has been long in favor of it.

      But I’m still not sure it would have happened, though, because of the 33/17 thing. Alternately, though, there are arguably only 10 states that win: the swing states. Wyoming may have outsized influence, but nobody campaigns there or tends to their needs for their three electoral votes. At least they go to Texas and California for money.

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