Tuesday, February 2, 2016

About those Iowa results

What do I think about last night's Iowa Caucus results?

Glad you asked.

First off, the night was indeed yuge, but not for Donald Trump. It was Marco Rubio who shocked everyone by nearly sliding into second place in caucus voting. Voting is still not complete, so I would be beyond thrilled to see Marco push Trump into third place.

The importance of Rubio's finish cannot be understated. For a number of reasons. First off, it shows the farce of relying so heavily on polls. As Charles Krauthammer said so deliciously some months back -- if we elected solely on poll results, we'd be in the second term of a Ron Paul presidency. I, myself, no expert in the area, have said repeatedly that these polls that show Trump with incredibly high numbers simply should not be believed. Trump has a devoted fan base -- about 25-30% and that's what the final turnout was in Iowa.

It's important to understand how polling works. If you look at the data behind most polls, these companies poll 100-300 people and then extrapolate those results to cover any voting base from 100,000 to 100,000,000 and claim a 4% margin of error. Just because a broken clock is right twice a day, it doesn't mean you should use that clock to tell time. We saw just four years ago as polls and modeling showed Mitt Romney would surely win the Presidency. It didn't happen. Wasn't even close. Pudgy pollster Frank Luntz said he was going to quit the business. Dick Morris completely disappeared. Republicans who imagined an end to the Obama kingship were stunned when Mittens didn't pull it off.

And thus, you had a deliciously cowed Trump appearing at the podium last night, trying to sound positive, when he was devastated. He had been told for months leading up to the vote that Iowa was in the bag. He had beaten Cruz back after the senator's brief surge, and his arrogance was on full display when he skipped the final debate. He had hired (we're gonna have the best people) Rick Santorum's former Iowa campaign guy, famed for his impressive ground game. He bashed Cruz with birther nonsense, attacked him personally, thumbed his nose at everyone . . . because he believed he had the state won easily because of how the polls read. And he nearly came in third. So these polls that have him miles out in front in New Hampshire? I wouldn't be so confident of that.

As to Rubio -- you could see the excitement on his face during his "victory" speech. And an impressive speech too. Using the moment to create more passion in those who are looking at him as the alternative to the two harshly devisive candidates, Rubio hit all the right notes. They often compare him to a young Jack Kennedy, and other than his chronic dry mouth (you could see him desperately needing a sip of water there), his speech was just as inspiring as anything Obama has given off the teleprompter these last years.

You have to wonder how far ahead of Trump he would have finished had not Jeb poured millions into bashing Rubio prior to the vote. Bush, meanwhile, got only 3% for all that negative advertising. Not a good return on his investment.

After his poor showing, Mike Huckabee dropped out. I'm wondering if he'll support Rubio, as I see Marco as the closest to Huck's moderate political views. I cannot see Huck supporting Trump unless he, like Sarah Palin, is willing to toss aside his values to support a vulgar cretin like Trump.

I'm assuming Santorum and Gilmore will drop out too. Iowa was Santorum's only shot at getting a leg up, and he didn't make a dent in the voting. Most people don't even know Gilmore's running, so he needs to step aside. Christie is banking on a big showing in New Hampshire to get his game back. But with Rubio picking up the endorsements of Tim Scott and Trey Goudy (and perhaps Nikki Haley) in South Carolina, I can't see Christie staying with Cruz, Trump and Marco after NH.

Wild cards here are Rand Paul and Ben Carson. I don't think Carson is going anywhere outside of Iowa. His campaign is whining about supposed improprieties from Cruz's caucus goers -- it is alleged that Cruz caucus voters were telling Carson's people that Carson had dropped out, so they should switch to Cruz. Pretty unseemly on the face of it, but if it's true, and Carson's voters fell for it . . . it's like the hidden ball trick, you fell for it bro - quit bitchin.

But I'm not sure why Carson would hang in there. He really doesn't stand a chance of winning the nomination or a general election. No one is going to vote for a rank amateur to run this country. And Carson would get destroyed in debates with Hillary or Bernie. It would be ugly to watch. So I'm not sure why he's going to hang around. Especially after the drubbing he's most likely to get in NH and SC.

Rand Paul -- I just don't understand him. He's not going anywhere either. He's an excellent counter-point in the debates as he bravely points out how typical conservative positions like rebuilding the military have a prohibitive cost associated with them. And he'd be great in a debate with Hillary or Bernie. But he's not going to win the nomination as a libertarian, nor the general. So how long does he hang around?

And how long does Reince Priebus let them hang around? Some time before the SEC primary, he's going to have to get these 2 percenters off the stage so the top three can focus the voters on a choice between three different ideologies.

I haven't mentioned Carly yet. The general consensus was that she was hoping to run a race of attrition -- hanging around as the field winnowed until she could emerge as the outsider candidate with the best chance of beating Hillary head-to-head. She may keep that up. But unless something remarkable happens, I don't see her getting above the one or two percent level in voting. Many think she may be auditioning for a VP slot. And I think I mentioned earlier that I had agreed with Kurt Schlichter that a Rubio/Fiorina ticket would be fairly formidable. That may come to pass. But it's a long way down the road.

And wither Jeb? I cannot imagine him dropping out. The blemish on the Bush legacy of him having to quit the race after both his father and brother won the Presidency would be a real slap in the face to a very decent man and excellent governor. And were he to drop out? He's got the greatest potential to affect the balance of the race as his super PAC has a ton of money to spend. Could he endorse Rubio after all the heated attacks on the Florida Senator? Cruz doesn't seem like Bush's kind of guy, but he certainly won't throw in for Trump. I think Bush may be the real deal changer in this primary season. If he drops out, whoever doesn't get his endorsement is going to suffer from it in the form or relentless punishing negative adverstising.

But that's just how I see things. I could be wrong about all of it.

I should also speak a moment about the Dems . . .

The most powerful political machine in the Democratic party . . . and Hillary Clinton had to rely on six coin flips to squeak by a 74 year old socialist by a couple of tenths of a percentage point . . . and she and her supporters are crowing about a victory?!

Coin flips?!?!?!

Really?! In the 21st century?! And Republicans are the anti-science party?!


And in the Voter fraud? What voter fraud?! department. We find that the voting results from 90 precincts are mysteriously missing from the Democratic caucus results.

Hmmm . . . Hillary defies statistical odds by winning 6 straight coin tosses and then 90 precincts go missing in a race she leads by .2% over a septuagenarian senator no one could have picked out of a line-up a few months ago.

Clinton . . . illegalities . . . cheating . . . scandal? Nah, that's just crazy talk.

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