I wanted to collect my thoughts now that the 2016 Iowa Caucus is in the can on the Republican side who were the winners and losers?
- Ted Cruz – He overcame negative media attention, negative ads, attacks and a narrative that said he couldn’t win. He earned this win. He built a great campaign with tremendous organization. Cruz also set a record for the most votes received with (unofficially) 51,649 votes.
- Marco Rubio – Rubio exceeded expectations and had a strong third finish that will keep him competitive going into New Hampshire.
- Republicans for setting a new turnout record. Unofficially the number is at 186,795. I said I’d be shocked if we surpassed 150,000. Color me shocked.
- Conservatism – Cruz won, but also it can be argued that of all of the candidates to win the “establishment” lane Rubio is the most conservative.
- Iowa Republicans – They are the winner because 75.7% of Iowa Republicans rejected Donald Trump. We should be proud that we stopped him in our state.
- Iowa Governor Terry Branstad – It should send a message to the Governor that the one candidate he said Iowa should defeat ended up winning, but winning with 51,649 votes. Those are 51,649 rebukes. Also the two candidates he praised – Chris Christie and Jeb Bush combined had 8,513 votes.
- Donald Trump – Trump’s image as a winner has been tarnished, he no longer seems invincible. Iowans rejected his style of politics and apparently missing that last Fox News debate was a bad idea after all.
- Jeb Bush – How many millions spent and he just won 2.8% of the vote?
- The ethanol lobby – when the only candidate you target wins the Iowa Caucus with a record number of votes that pretty much means you are irrelevant.
- Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum – Their supporters were the only ones who thought they were going to surge. I like both men, but I was disappointed in the direction their campaigns turned. Whether they’ll admit it or not they hurt their campaigns appearing with Donald Trump. Sure it was a good cause, but the optics looked bad. Also the negative campaigning and attacks launched on Ted Cruz backfired. All that did was hurt Cruz, but it did not help them. Huckabee has suspended his campaign. I suspect Rick Santorum will soon as well even though his campaign said he’s headed to South Carolina.
- John Kasich and Jim Gilmore – Both proved that not campaign in Iowa is a guaranteed way to be embarrassed on Caucus night. Gilmore only received 12 votes!
- Pollsters, in particular the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Poll, I think we can safely say that they are no longer the gold standard. In general pollsters showed that if they don’t have their methodology right they are not going to have the right results.
- Mainstream media who are currently focusing on Rubio who came in third because he exceeded expectations instead of Cruz who actually won the Caucus who also exceeded expectations.