First published February 2, 2016 on Headlines & Global News
It looks as if Iowa voters told Donald Trump, “You’re fired!” Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton may have been the night’s winners, but Donald Trump dominated the headlines once again – this time as the biggest loser.
The loud-mouthed, brash-talking GOP poll leader and headline maker, Trump came in a distant second in Iowa, 25 percent to Cruz’s 28 percent. But what was more embarrassing for Trump is that he beat Marco Rubio, who finished third with 24 percent of the vote, by only a single percentage point. For the first time in more than six months, Trump is eating lots of humble pie, and his loss was Rubio’s gain. The Florida senator looks as if he’s finally catching fire as the GOP establishment’s favored son.
What Iowa truly demonstrated was that Trump’s poll numbers didn’t catch up with his enormous self-image – and that he can be stopped. Skipping the last GOP debate and his incessant haranguing of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly probably didn’t help him. In contrast, it did help Rubio, whose strong performance in last week’s Trump-less debate won the upstart the largest share of Iowa’s undecided voters. According to the Wall Street Journal, Rubio also won 40 percent of the vote among Republicans “whose top priority was to pick a nominee who could win the general election.”
After the fat lady sang, Cruz easily cruised to victory by carrying the state’s huge evangelical Christian vote. About 64 percent of all GOP caucus voters were evangelical, an increase from 57 percent in 2012. To Trump’s credit, he won the largest share of first-time caucus voters, 45 percent, which was an increase from 38 percent in 2012.
Another upset in this year’s rocky road to 2016 ended in Hillary Clinton’s favor. She finally won Iowa, finally winning the state she lost to then- Senator Barack Obama in 2008. Back then, a teary-eyed Clinton went on to cry over her loss in Iowa, which some say helped her win New Hampshire.
This time, Hillary eked out 49.9 percent of the vote, besting Bernie Sanders’ 49.5 percent, but not without the help of a few coin tosses that went her way. The takeaway, however, is that Hillary’s very slim win isn’t a vote of confidence from Democrats. In fact, it should have her concerned that her coronation as the party’s nominee isn’t so inevitable. Moving into New Hampshire, Sanders is expected to win easily, which brings us back to Trump.
What Trump still has going for him is Iowa’s track record of picking losers in its GOP caucus. Mike Huckabee won in 2008, and Rick Santorum followed suit in 2012, but neither became the GOP’s nominee.
The pressure is certainly on Trump now. He must win New Hampshire to prove being number one in the polls can translate to being number one with voters! Otherwise, reality will begin to make his campaign look like a fantasy – a forceful disruptive one nonetheless – but a fantasy all the same.