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The Trump presidential express train hit a speed bump in Iowa as he came in second place in the Iowa caucus behind Sen. Ted Cruz who squeaked out a victory. Nipping at Mr. Trump’s heels was a surging Sen. Marco Rubio. Cruz-Trump-Rubio finished 1-2-3 with 28%-24%-23% of the vote respectively, meaning Sen. Cruz wins eight delegates, and Mr. Trump and Sen. Rubio pick up seven each. The pundits claim the key to success for both Cruz and Rubio was an effective ground game of campaigners and callers. The media is calling this a major upset. Not really. The quirky Iowa Caucus process is unreliable in determining GOP candidates. The last time Iowans picked a GOP winner was 2004 when incumbent George W. Bush won unopposed.
Should Mr. Trump be concerned? Well, not quite yet. But what can we learn from the caucuses? Three things come to my mind:
1. Whether it was Cruz, Trump or Rubio, Iowans are saying America is a mess, they are not happy with its condition, and the political establishment can no longer be trusted to correct it. They also realize the country is running out of time.
2. Even though he came in second place in Iowa, Mr. Trump may very well run the table in the remaining GOP primaries. He already has comfortable leads in the next few primary states, such as New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Florida, and Super Tuesday. By winning these primaries, none of his opponents will be able to catch up. In addition, whether you are a Republican or Democrat, he has single–handedly energized the electoral process thereby getting more people involved with campaign issues, leading to increased voter turnout. To illustrate, over 180K voters in Iowa participated in the caucuses yesterday, a new record. Without Trump, the GOP debates would have had low ratings, as would the primaries. His liabilities though are his unconventional tactics and strategies which are unfamiliar to voters, the media, and mainstream politicians. He is playing by his rules, not theirs. While he is angering the establishment, he is also experiencing a degree of success among voters who are frustrated by the status quo.
3. Polling was horribly misleading going into Iowa. None reliably calculated the outcome. Although Mr. Trump is said to be leading in national polls, I am now skeptical, as should the candidate.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment leading to Iowa was the press. I found their coverage deceiving and slanted towards their favorite candidates. It was far from “fair and balanced.” By misleading the American people, the press has lost the public trust. The war with Mr. Trump continues to rage. As to why, the answer should be rather obvious, money. Because Mr. Trump is self-financed and knows how to manipulate the media to his advantage, his contribution to their coffers has been minuscule as compared to his political rivals. If he knocks out his competitors early, the media will have a much smaller revenue stream than prior elections. This is but one reason why there is no love lost between the two, and why the media is desperate to undermine his campaign.
As to the Democratic side of the Iowa caucuses, no winner has been officially claimed as of this writing. Currently, it is Mrs. Clinton with a razor thin lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders of 700-695. Regardless of who wins, each candidate will get approximately 22 delegates. Mrs. Clinton cannot, therefore, claim this as a major win. It is clearly a tie.
Keep the Faith!