To the surprise of many, Donald Trump failed to do nearly as well as projected on Monday at the Iowa Caucus.
Pundits and pollsters pegged Trump as the man to beat in Iowa. Trump fell to second and barely maintained that, holding off Sen. Marco Rubio by a mere percentage point.
At first seemingly statesman- like following his loss and briefly congratulating Ted Cruz before heading off to New Hampshire, Trump reversed his course yesterday and laid into Cruz, Iowa and the entire Republican Party. The magnate alleged illegal voter fraud and demanded a do-over of the entire Iowa caucus. If the caucus was done again, there is a good chance that Rubio would pass up Trump, but the New York demagogue is likely unfamiliar with Wilde’s dictum: “There are two great evils in this world: one is not getting what you want and the other is getting it.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats have had their own post-caucus issues. Hillary was declared the official winner, but not before allegations of voter fraud from sources slightly more reputable than Trump, and an instance of a delegate being awarded to Clinton over Sanders on the basis of a coin flip. But enough of the soap opera that is the Iowa caucus every election and the GOP Primary of this particular one: let’s look at state of the race for the GOP.
At this point, there are really only three plausible Republican candidates in the race: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Yes, the tragic trio of governors — Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie – are all trying the McCain- esque strategy of ignoring Iowa and betting everything on winning the traditionally more establishment-friendly New Hampshire.
The problem with this strategy is obvious to anyone who bothers to glance at a poll: it is completely doomed and utterly quixotic, much like John Kasich’s campaign. Trump leads the polls in New Hampshire by double digits and has for months. Yes, he led in Iowa and lost there on caucus night, but he never lead Cruz there by the margin he leads the field in New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, the second place in New Hampshire is currently held by Cruz, followed closely behind by everyone else, with most polls placing the charismatic and rapidly rising Rubio at fourth and closing on the top three.
In other words, the top three from Iowa are looking increasingly likely to be, in whatever order, the top three finishers in New Hampshire as well, especially with Rand Paul dropping out yesterday. His right-leaning libertarian supporters will likely now support either Cruz or Rubio.
On the Democratic side, Martin O’Malley (finally) dropped out of the race, leaving Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at 49.9 percent and 49.6 percent respectively. Clinton beat Sanders in Iowa but is a double-digit underdog to him in New Hampshire.
However, the closeness of the race in Iowa in spite of Hillary’s impressive organization and ground game (and Bernie’s lack thereof) should raise some red flags for the Democratic Party. The fact that things were as close as they are, and the fact that Clinton, almost losing in Iowa again after pouring so much time and money into it, may speak to the amount of voter disillusionment and fatigue with Hillary than to the simple appeal of Bernie. Only time will tell, but if voter fatigue is real with Hillary, that could be damaging in a primary but deadly in the general election.