Political pundits are often accused of stirring up controversy without backing. This time, the facts point to a single conclusion: if Ted Cruz wins Iowa by a strong margin, he will win the nomination. If he wins the nomination, he will win the Presidency. It all comes back to Iowa.
This is a far cry from Donald Trump’s statement about Iowa’s past choices. “You haven’t been good. In fact, some people say, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter if you win Iowa.'” This year more than ever in recent history, Iowa may determine the race based upon the dynamic, schedule, and trends.
Let’s take a look at these three items to demonstrate why an Iowa victory will propel Ted Cruz to the White House.
Dynamic: Trump’s Support hasn’t Faced a Setback
When Trump first announced that he was going to run, pundits and competitors called it a joke. As he rose to the top of the polls, competitors and pundits said it wouldn’t last. Some even put him as low as 6th on their magical “power ratings” as late as October. They assumed he would fade. They were sure of it.
There was one thing that happened and another thing that didn’t happen that prevented their predictions from coming true. The event that happened and helped Trump was, unfortunately, the San Bernardino terrorist attack. He took a firm stance against the attacks and against radical Islamic terrorism as a result, overshadowing what other candidates were saying about how America should respond.
The thing that didn’t happen is that he didn’t have a major gaffe or explosion, at least not one that stuck. He had minor incidents, but they weren’t enough to shake his supporters or cease his resolve. His mistakes were turned into positives and his rhetoric, true or false, rallied his target audience beautifully.
In short, everything has been going as planned. That’s where Iowa comes in. He’s been expecting to win Iowa based upon his poll numbers for months. He destroyed Scott Walker when he was the early frontrunner. When Ben Carson made a move, Trump quickly eliminated him with some help from the Carson campaign itself. Then, Cruz topped the poll in December and sparked the war that we’re seeing played out in Iowa today. Trump really wants to win Iowa.
If he loses, he’ll blame it on Iowa’s ______ (insert Trump’s favorite insult of the day) and he’ll point to the past elections where the Iowa winner failed to get the nomination. He might survive if he’s close and if the final results are in line with poll numbers. However, if he’s polling neck-and-neck with Cruz as he is right now and he suffers a major defeat, his resolve will be shaken. His polling numbers will be questioned. His support will be seen as the vapor created by people who answer poll questions on the phone and hit social media with idiotic chants but who don’t actually get out and vote.
It will carry over to New Hampshire where he has poll numbers but lacks support, South Carolina, and Nevada where the results will be scrutinized even further. At that point, his polling numbers will need to line up with actual results or a good chunk of his support will fall off.
Schedule: Early Cruz Momentum will Turn Into a Huge March 1
The only reason the pundits were giving Cruz any chance at all in the early months of the campaign was based upon the schedule. With Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee all very winnable for Cruz, he will have an opportunity to build a huge delegate lead. Four days later, he’ll have Kentucky that he can win if Rand Paul has dropped out by then, Kansas, and Louisiana.
While it’s too far out to make real predictions, one has to look at the way that Cruz has saved campaign dollars and realize that he’ll be better positioned than anyone other than Trump. It’s not just whether or not Cruz can build up momentum starting in Iowa but also whether or not Trump’s momentum can be stunted. He’s claimed that he’s going to drop out if it appears that he won’t win, which means that if he’s dealt enough early blows to both his chances and his ego, he might not even be in the race by early March. This is wishful thinking, of course, but it cannot be stressed enough how big of a role Iowa plays in this.
With the schedule on his side and the most available funds of non-billionaire candidates, Iowa could be the first domino in an early domination for Cruz.
Trends: This is the Year of the Outsider
Ted Cruz is a political outsider sitting on the inside. He’s an elected official who hasn’t acted anything like his peers and their penchant for changing their minds once elected. He’s stayed true and conservative which puts him at odds with his fellow politicians.
Donald Trump is an insider sitting on the outside. He may not hold an elected office but he’s been involved in politics for most of his adult life. He’s a natural at the Republican Establishment’s game of making deals even if those deals are not conservative or Republican as he has demonstrated with his support of increasing environmental mandates for the sake of liberal ethanol subsidies. He wants Iowans to vote for him so desperately that he’s getting in bed with Big Corn. I know it the ethanol industry has an effect on many lives in Iowa, but it’s not as beneficial as most, including Trump, seem to believe. Any positive financial benefit to individual Iowans is negated by his higher income tax proposal and desire to stop free trade. By turning to the left in Iowa, Trump has shown his true colors.
The longer the campaign stretches for Trump, the more liberal he will appear. He has gotten this far by claiming to be conservative while proposing moderate policies other than building a wall and banning Muslims. The thing that Iowans need to remember is that Cruz plans to build a wall and cease immigration from countries with radical Islamic terrorists as well, but he stays true to Reagan’s conservative values on the other issues as well.
Cruz is already being labeled by the Republican Establishment as more of an outsider than Trump. This should be a loud alarm bell to every Iowan.
It’s still possible for Cruz to win the nomination and the election if he loses Iowa by a small margin, but a big win would propel Cruz to the nomination and Iowa as the conservative stronghold that made it happen.