Post-Caucus: How Close It Was!

The Iowa Caucus proved to be more of a thrill ride than anyone expected.  The Clinton-Sanders margin was almost negligible and the GOP had 3 candidates taking the majority of the Republican votes.  In yesterday’s prediction thread we stated that Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders would be Monday night’s victors.

Ted Cruz did in fact win with Donald Trump taking second place (also predicted) and Marco Rubio taking third place.  Rubio’s strong showing was not expected in Iowa as the Evangelical population pointed more to a strong Ben Carson showing (who finished forth with around 10% of the vote and was our predicted 3rd place finisher).  Rubio’s win was bolstered further by a key endorsement from Tom Scott.  This result for Rubio will likely lead to a major jump in the national polls.

The most disappointing performances within the GOP had to come from Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.  Rand’s father Ron finished in third place during the 2012 Iowa Caucus and there was some thought that he would capture a bit of that magic.  At fifth place with only 4.5% of the vote, the Paul campaign has to be frustrated by their candidates inability to grab real traction within the party.

For all of the disappointment felt by the Paul campaign, the Jeb Bush camp must be in outright panic.  With millions of dollars spent and coming off his strongest debate performance yet, the early GOP favorite had to expect better than 2.8% of the vote.  We may be seeing the last days of the Jeb! experience.

In all, don’t expect the GOP candidates to throw in the towel before next week’s Primary in NH.  NH tends to be more friendly to establishment / moderate Republicans, many of whom were at the bottom of this poll.  After NH, though, we expect several campaigns to close up shop.

For the Democrats, the story got interesting in Iowa.  Martin O’Malley – debt strapped and with little support – suspended his campaign.  O’Malley is often rumored to be interested in a VP nomination, but that may be in doubt now that the Democrat Party has seen what he would actually bring to the table.  Staying in this race through the Iowa Caucus may have hurt O’Malley’s political career more than it helped.

Clinton narrowly defeated Bernie Sanders in a state that she had a decent lead in before the votes were cast.  While this is a technical win for Hillary, it was also a spiritual win for Sanders, though it was not without controversy.  No other candidate has come from the fringe to the mainstream like he has and with a monster lead in New Hampshire, he is going to force Clinton to play major defense over the coming weeks.

One additional point of note about the Democrat voters shown during the CNN broadcast was the difference in voter profiles between those who chose Clinton and those who chose Sanders.  The voters that valued “experience” overwhelmingly chose Clinton, while those that wanted “someone who shares my values” overwhelmingly chose Sanders.  Look for this information to be used by both campaigns going forward.

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Prediction – Iowa Winners Will Be: Cruz and Sanders

The big day is finally here.

Iowa again marks the beginning of a new beginning (as President Obama cannot run for office again) and with that, Americans will be subjected to an exhaustive gauntlet of campaign ads, calls, and donation requests.  Iowa also marks the point when we, as Americans, start to get some real data about who the next leader of our country will be.

Prior to actually voting for someone, all we have had to go on are the polls conducted by research groups and media organizations.  While these polls give some insight into the general state of mind of American voters, we have also seen that one debate performance can launch a candidate into a leading position for a time being.

This is especially true with the leaderless Republican party.  Through the summer and fall, Republican voters have acted like middle-school children trying to figure out who they wanted to date.  First it was Bush, then Fiorina, then Carson, and now Cruz (all while maintaining a huge crush on Donald Trump).  None of these “picks” lasted longer than a a few months as the spotlight tends to reveal the truth and subsequently forcing those candidates back down the charts.

So who will win in Iowa?

For the Republicans, the winner with be Senator Ted Cruz.  Looking at maps of previous caucuses in the state, it becomes obvious that Iowans love both Evangelical and Libertarian leaning candidates.  Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, being the best examples.  Cruz represents both to some extent and is also currently tied with Donald Trump in the national polls, lending to votes by name recognition.  Second place will go to Donald Trump and third place will go to Ben Carson, who remains very popular with the very religious.

For the Democrats the race is less a race and more a head-to-head competition.  Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders going into today’s caucus (though the difference is close to margin of error).  Sanders, though, has a message that has been building quite dramatically over the past 6 months and strong support from millennial voters.  If (and here we are assuming they will) those millennial voters turn out, Sanders will narrowly win Iowa.

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South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham Offers Something No One is Asking For: War

In a speech to a crowd of mostly Republican voters, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham continued the singular thread of his campaign to date: advocating for a ground war in Iraq.  The Des Moines Register Soapbox stage is a forum for Presidential hopefuls to meet and interact with potential 2016 voters.  Gov. Scott Walker and former tech executive Carly Fiorina have also stopped by to share their stories, but their speeches focused on more mainstream topics such as the disfunction in Washington and on the promotion of the economy.

Sen. Graham’s rapid beating of the war drum will likely only register with a small number of voters.  The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are viewed by many to be expensive failures that cost the lives, limbs, and minds of too many young Americans.  The idea of a new ground war  in the Middle East as the center of one’s campaign will not be enough to accumulate any level of influence the Senator.

Why Sen. Graham has taken this angle is not known.  His campaign is polling poorly and has not raised nearly enough funds for the long haul.  Our projection is that Sen. Graham will drop out of the 2016 race relatively early.

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Trump, Carson Top Latest Iowa Poll

In a new round of polling conducted by Public Policy Polling, Donald Trump and Ben Carson have claimed the number one and two positions, respectively, in the GOP running.  Trump (19%) has been the outright leader in the polls for several weeks despite a run of controversial remarks that would have derailed many other campaigns.

Carson (12%), who was not an unknown to Conservative voters, didn’t have a strong showing at the GOP Debate overall, but did enough to excite his followers.  Carson remains an interesting candidate for the GOP.  His credentials are impressive on paper and his personality is very likable, but he does struggle in debates where more practiced politicians do not.

The frustration that many voters have expressed with more traditional politicians has been loud and clear to the Republicans.  Gov. John Kasich noted during the debate that despite Donald Trump’s politically incorrect delivery, he has ‘hit a nerve in this country, people are frustrated with Washington.

Perhaps, then, this is the reason for the current standings.  With Trump, Carson, and Fiorina (9%) leading at this stage, are we seeing a rejection of those politicians who have been closer to Washington? Or is this just another early poll that is biased by more vocal respondents?

Time will tell.

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