After more than a year of pandering to Hawkeye voters – quite honestly a state that in no way represents what the United States of America looks like but gets to set the tone for what a political campaign is supposed to look like – the Iowa Caucuses took place on a cold, wintry Monday night. Both the Republicans and the Democrats met in schools, town halls, churches and homes across the Iowa plains to decide how to divvy up the delegates for their respective parties at their National Conventions come this summer. Everyone thought that, for all practical purposes, that it was going to be triumphant marches to victory by both billionaire idiot Donald Trump and millionaire double-talker Hillary Clinton – so what the hell happened in Iowa on Monday night?
For the Republican Party, it always was going to be a bit of a clusterfuck. After starting the process with 17 candidates – and going to the Caucus with 12 candidates still officially running – the process was going to spread the votes across a wide swath of the candidacy. Even Jim Gilmore, who has only participated in one of the GOP debates (the sixth one right before the Caucus), received 12 votes from Iowa’s Republicans…not 12%…12 VOTES. Thus, whoever came out on top was going to have had to made an impression on the Iowa Republican constituency.
Even though he claims differently now (more on this in a minute), Trump was at the forefront of the Iowa race pretty much from the time he announced his candidacy in June 2015. According to some polls, he had built a double-digit lead over fellow candidates as varied as Dr. Ben Carson, Jeb! Bush, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as the Republican Caucus approached. In fact, Trump was so confident of his place in Iowa, he chose to poke Fox News in the eye at the final GOP debate before the Iowa Republican Caucus and not show up, instead running his own “veterans’ fundraiser” (by the way, jackass…as a veteran I ask where and when is that money going to be dispersed?) to “compete” with the debate.
That move might have been something that tipped the scales. Iowa voters don’t like to be neglected by the candidates and both Cruz, who made a great deal of noise about going “full Grassley” (hitting every county in Iowa with a campaign stop, something that Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says is critical to winning the Caucus, hence its name), and Rubio, who had an outstanding performance in that final debate, surged at the end by making the Iowa voter feel as if they were important. The result? Cruz defeated Trump by a rather comfortable margin and Rubio almost clipped Trump for second place, which would have been an even more devastating blow to Trump’s campaign and ego.
Trump, defeated for the first time in the 2016 campaign, played it off as if the resounding setback didn’t affect him. He said he was “honored” to have finished second, mentioning that he “had been told to ignore Iowa, that he didn’t have a chance” and that he was “way behind from the start,” a lie if there ever was one. But there was a menace behind his words and his body language spoke volumes, almost like he was telling wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and bland sons to “get to the plane so we can get the fuck out of this hellhole.”
Meanwhile, Rubio and Cruz were positively giddy over their performances. Predicted to not even garner 10% of the Caucus vote, Rubio more than doubled that in earning the support of 23% of Caucus-goers and nearly upended Trump. Cruz was also proud to see that his “ground and pound” game had supplanted Trump’s “dazzle them with bullshit” approach and he didn’t miss the chance to point this out to “The Donald.”
That seems to be the biggest thing that Iowa voters looked at. After several months of listening to the candidates, it didn’t seem that they bought the Trump bullshit in the very end. Perhaps it was that misstep at Liberty University when he called it “Two Corinthians” rather than “Second Corinthians” (even as a heathen I know what it is called); maybe it was the inability for Trump to have admitted a time when he prostrated himself in front of God; perhaps it was his inability to come up – or even enunciate – what was his favorite Bible verse. While these things might not be important to some, it is important to Iowa and its evangelical voters.
That is an important factor to the voters in Iowa. From the conservative, religious values voters after eliminating Trump, it was a simple step to which candidate did people want to follow, someone viewed as an “establishment” figure or someone who would “shake up” Washington, D. C.? Cruz has prided himself as someone who doesn’t follow the “establishment,” while Rubio has picked up that mantle (after the failure of Jeb! Bush throughout the early campaigning). That they were separated by only a few thousand votes indicates how close that fight may yet turn out.
On the Democratic side, you couldn’t ask for a better fight. Whereas former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thought that she would have a cakewalk over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (and let’s pause here to “pour a 40” for the campaign of former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, which never had a snowball’s chance in Hell; he suspended his campaign after the votes were in on the Iowa Democratic Caucus), it has been Sanders’ virility on the campaign trail that seems to have shocked Clinton. Sanders barnstormed Iowa, making it a fight, where Clinton thought she could throw a couple of token appearances and walk away with an easy victory.
Sanders’ message has found an excited audience, but just who is it? It would be easy to say that it is the young people, college students and the “hipsters” under-30, but that doesn’t explain the 50/50 split that came between Sanders and Clinton on Monday night in the Iowa Caucus. Sanders had to convince some of the adults in the room that his ideas and plans for the future of the United States were viable and that he is a viable choice for the Democratic Party. It may not be what Sanders is doing that is drawing in the crowd.
I’ve said it before…despite being arguably the most qualified candidate in the field (hey Republicans…if you had a candidate that was a former Secretary of State, a former Senator, had a position with a former President of the United States that helped to set national policy during one of the most prosperous periods in U. S. history and also worked with that person as a former Governor, you’d be championing that candidate like they were the Second Coming), Clinton is carrying more baggage than the Titanic and she is trying to navigate through a glacier field that would sink a weaker politician. Although there isn’t an indictment against her for the myriad of alleged transgressions she has made (and I’m not even going to count the e-mail situation, but that is a story for another time), there are those not only with the opposition party but also in the Democratic Party that will not support Clinton. Thus, they are throwing their support behind Sanders, which might explain the 50/50 split in Iowa on Monday night.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Democratic Party of Iowa has still not declared a winner between Clinton and Sanders. In reality, though, Sanders is the big winner while Clinton walks away with a slight victory. Sanders is showing that he can actually bring in voters to his supposedly “socialist” way of thinking – that people are ready for the progressive mindset that he espouses – while Clinton can say she held her ground and took a victory that eluded her in 2008, when she was upended by an upstart named Barack Obama.
So, when will President Cruz or President Sanders take office? Not so fast, bucko. The Iowa Caucus didn’t do a damn thing, in reality. Because the Iowa Caucus hands its delegates out by percentages (what is called a proportional allocation) and not a “winner take all” (as the March “SEC primaries” will be), this is the way that the Republican Party breaks down:
Ted Cruz 8 delegates
Donald Trump 7 delegates
Marco Rubio 7 delegates
Ben Carson 3 delegates
Rand Paul 1 delegate
Jeb Bush 1 delegate
(no other candidates received a delegate)
And for the Democrats:
Hillary Clinton 26 delegates
Bernie Sanders 21 delegates
(and don’t ask me how they can be 50/50 and Clinton get more delegates…must be that superdelegate thing)
As you can see, nothing has been decided.
The carnival now moves onto New Hampshire, where the barkers are already hawking their wares to the voters of The Granite State. Trump, licking his wounds after the Iowa disappointment, also is projected with a double-digit lead there, but it is supposedly thought a sizeable voting bloc that isn’t fascinated with the Circus of Trump is waiting in the wings to take him down. The reality is, however, that Trump has paid little attention to New Hampshire and has little “ground forces” there…just like what he did in Iowa that eventually doomed his candidacy. Rubio and Cruz, energized by their performances, and other candidates, such as Chris Christie, John Kasich (with the endorsement of the New York Times in his pocket) and Bush, seem to think that they can take Trump down a few more notches in New Hampshire.
For the Democrats, Clinton seems to have ceded New Hampshire to Sanders, in his Northeast backyard, and while she will contest it a bit seems to be pushing onwards to South Carolina and the March “SEC primaries” in the South, a traditional stronghold of the Clintons. She also has come to the realization that, unless she can put together a crushing set of wins in a row, she is facing a similar “delegate fight” to that which is going on in the Republican Party.
It’s just the beginning, political junkies, and it isn’t showing any signs that it will come to a close soon. Short of a seismic shift – something along the lines of Trump saying “fuck this, I’m out” (something that could conceivably happen…or his move to an Independent campaign), an indictment on Clinton, the Hellmouth opening up and sucking both parties into the Abyss – it’s going to be a battle all the way to Cleveland (Republican) and Philadelphia (Democratic)…and the fight may still rage on at the convention floor once they reach those cities.