A big night for Cruz, Rubio in Iowa; for Hillary, not so much

(AP)

(AP)

The biggest surprise out of Iowa was probably the absence of surprises.

The Democratic race was predicted to be tight, and it proved exceedingly tight. On the GOP side, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio did indeed finish within a handful of percentage points of each other, as suggested here yesterday, with Trump significantly underperforming what the pollsters were predicting and Rubio benefiting from that failure.

Trump has taken some damage with this loss, but I suspect that those talking excitedly about how Iowa has punctured his aura of invincibility are telling us more about their own anxieties than about Trump. Yes, a Trump loss is a helluva lot better for the Republican Party than a Trump win would have been, but let’s keep it in perspective. The developer has dealt with far greater setbacks in his business life, learned from them and come back stronger. That, not an unending string of triumphs, is what his reputation as a winner is built upon. In this case, a small defeat may very well focus his attention where it hasn’t been, on the blocking and tackling of politics, and in the end produce a more dangerous candidate.  Iowa has given his opponents hope that they otherwise would not have had, which is important. But the Trump phenomenon is a long, long way from playing out.

For an example of someone who did the blocking and tackling very well and was rewarded for it, Trump can look no further than that cagey Canadian, Ted Cruz. Whatever else you may think of Cruz, the man has endless ambition, a sharp sense of strategy and the discipline that is needed to implement that strategy, day after day and week after week. Those traits define the arc of his political career and have so far allowed him to overcome an absence of credible warmth that would cripple most other politicians.  I still doubt that combination will allow him to thrive in the long term, but it certainly did in Iowa. It was a well-earned victory.

However, while Cruz got the most GOP votes, the biggest winner of the night was Rubio. With 23 percent of the vote, he crushed the four governors — Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie — who combined couldn’t reach double-digits. If Rubio has competition for the so-called establishment vote, that’s where it’s going to come from, and none of the four showed any signs of life.  (Huckabee has wisely “suspended” his campaign.) The door now opens for a strong second-place showing by Rubio in New Hampshire next week, and if that happens Rubio’s argument for himself as the mainstream’s best shot would become hard to refute for voters, funders and most importantly opponents.

Finally, let’s not overlook the fact that together, Cruz and Trump pulled 52 percent of the GOP vote in Iowa, with the hapless Ben Carson managing another 9 percent. The discontent still runs very deep, and remains the animating force in this election cycle.

On the Democratic side, Iowa ended in a virtual tie, with Hillary Clinton clinging to a lead so small it has to be measured on a nanoscale.  In fact, “nondefeat” is a more apt description than “victory,” but Clinton is probably happy to take it and move on. Iowa again exposed both her strengths and her weaknesses, as a highly professional campaign barely compensated for a candidate still struggling to meld the moment with the message.

For Bernie Sanders, a message for this moment isn’t a problem, and his showing was impressive. Watching this campaign play out, it’s as if he and his followers keep trying to tell Clinton something, and she keeps repeating a vague, dissatisfying echo of it back to them. They keep trying to tell her that it’s not just safe, but necessary, to talk in blunt terms about what is happening in the American economy, and she keeps not quite believing it.

Part of it’s because politically, she’s more conservative than Sanders, but the bigger issue is that she’s more conservative in personality as well. Compared to her husband Bill, compared to Barack Obama and compared to Sanders, she is by nature more risk averse and less open. That’s just who she is, and she’s struggled with that throughout her career. She is just never going to be confused with a rebel or a “character”.

Obama — who has studied Hillary better than most, both as opponent and colleague — described her predicament well in an interview with Politico:

“Her strengths, which are the fact that she’s extraordinarily experienced – and, you know, wicked smart and knows every policy inside and out – sometimes could make her more cautious and her campaign more prose than poetry, but those are also her strengths. It means that she can govern and she can start here, [on] day one, more experienced than any non-vice president has ever been who aspires to this office.”

But to govern, you first have to be elected. Sanders is taking her to school, teaching her what getting elected is going to take, forcing her out of the personal and ideological shell where instinct tells her to stay. I think when this is over, Clinton may look back and recognize that Bernie Sanders was the best thing that could have happened to her.
He isn’t Obama. And to Clinton’s relief, he also isn’t Elizabeth Warren …

Reader Comments 0

1425 comments
ptcrunner
ptcrunner

It's hard to believe that I have a handful of neighbors supporting Cruz. That alone speaks volumes about their character. For the most part, I respect differing viewpoints, but this is a major exception. This man is just sleazy and anyone who defends him has to have something incredibly wrong with themselves. Plus, this is just one of the more disturbing things about Cruz: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/09/ted-cruz-spanks-his-daughter-and-republicans-are-a-ok-with-that/


lvg
lvg

@ptcrunner No big surprise - carpet bomber from Canada used his daughter to have her participate in a derogatory commercial about Hillary.

bealzebubba
bealzebubba

Kind of comical that through all the trash talk and boasting...the high polling numbers..even through the so-called liberal media jumping on every Trump statement and giving him air-time...and he still comes in second.  All he needed to make things even more special was to have Kanye West jump up in the middle of Cruz's celebratory address and say

"Yo, yo, yo!  I don't know you, I'm sure you're very good, but my man, Trump was KILLIN' IT in the polls!"

How would Trump phrase it if he'd won?


Trump Earnhardt
"Second place is just the first loser."

Trump Diesel in FAST & FURIOUS

"Ask any racer. Any real racer. It don't matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning's winning."

breckenridge
breckenridge

 Great, please be so kind as to point out ANYBODY on the planet that has made 100% correct decisions their entire lives. 

In The Middle there a number of republican candidates to choose from - Rubio, Trump, Christie, Kasich, Bush, and so forth.  However one, and only one, has been singled out by both the (republican) secretary of state of Iowa, as well as the Carson campaign, for his fraudulent acts - Ted Cruz.

So go find a republican candidate who is not a lying lowlife that cannot be trusted under any circumstances - Ted Cruz.

KUTGF
KUTGF

I seem to recall that we have a trollish poster who posts up "empirical evidence" and other nonsense that Bernie just don't understand that student loans are not like car loans and can't get lower rates cause ya know, those car loans are secured by cars, etc and the free market knows an unsecured loan is just so much riskier.  Thus cause trolls are trolls, Bernie just don't understand the real world.

Except that "More than 90 percent of student debt is either owned or guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education".  That seems to be less riskier than a loan secured by a car that has to be repossed and sold in who knows what condition. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

Ted Cruz committed two transparently fraudulent acts in 3 days, last Saturday and again on Monday.  This speaks to his low moral character, and the low moral character of those who will continue to support him going forward.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

(Amazing how much easier, and more relaxing, it is for me to post on this blog, with Josef Nix not posting on this blog.  Just stating a fact that needed to be stated.  Move on, people.  No need to respond to this somewhat too personal aside.)

Kamchak
Kamchak

BUSTED: Cruz’s campaign chair quits Washington House after friends reveal he lied about military service

A Republican lawmaker has resigned from the Washington state legislature and quit his role as Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign chair over accusations that he exaggerated his military service record.

State Rep. Graham Hunt (R-Orting) stepped down Tuesday due to media coverage of what he described as “inconsistencies in the records of my military service,” reported The Seattle Times.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@RantNRave Great, please be so kind as to point out ANYBODY on the planet that has made 100% correct decisions their entire lives.

honested
honested

@InTheMiddle2 @RantNRave 

Probably not.

However if you are in public office, shouldn't you have the common sense not to lie about something that has no purpose other than to fluff your resume'?

RantNRave
RantNRave

@InTheMiddleWho


The point is people who live


in glass houses should dress


in the cellar.


K

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

I'll admit in all the caucusin' excitement, I had forgotten that the winner is a Fair Tax nutjob.


http://www.vox.com/2015/12/8/9866726/ted-cruz-electability


[T]he true political disaster of the Cruz plan is its impact on the elderly. Retired people, by definition, don't work. They are not paying payroll tax, and they will not gain any money from an increase in the EITC.

On average, the elderly pay less than 9 percent of their income in taxes, and they spend more than 100 percent of their after-tax income. Cruz's proposed 19 percent tax on that consumption would hammer this group, especially its lower-income members. No politician in American history has ever been so crazy as to propose a 19 percent cut in Social Security benefits, but Cruz's tax plan would have an even more adverse impact on retirees' living standards. Meanwhile, in his 2012 Senate campaign, Cruz endorsed cutting cost of living adjustments for Social Security beneficiaries, and his current campaign has revived Bush-style privatization schemes that the rest of the party abandoned after they proved politically disastrous.

honested
honested

@Visual_Cortex 

Just think of how terrible things would have become had the shrub 'Social Security Privatization Scheme' come to fruition.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

My response to IntheMiddle, below:


Hillary is not weak on "domestic."  She is right now taking on the NRA with her "talk-speech" in NH.  I would say she knows very well how to "meld the message with the moment."  Look deeper.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@InTheMiddle2 @MaryElizabethSings 

When any group, like the NRA or ALEC, achieves too much power in this nation (or in any nation), we the people need to stand up and "take them on." Just as the government will break up monopolies - for the benefit of the society at large.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

They have no more power than the SEIU, AFL CIO, NEA, ACLU, or a number of other groups.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@InTheMiddle2 

You are in denial on that, imho.  People are dying as a result of the insatiable greed for power and money of the NRA.


RantNRave
RantNRave

@InTheMiddleWho


You need to start dressing


in the cellar cause your


house is made of glass........

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Gabby Gifford (and her husband) are with Hillary Clinton taking on the NRA in NH right now.  Clinton is the underdog in NH but she is fighting for it.  Agreement set between Clinton and Sanders to have another debate with Rachel Maddox tomorrow night in NH.  Town Hall meeting in NH tonight with Anderson Cooper between the two.


Bernie agreed to another debate tomorrow night if Hillary would have more debates in NY later, and somewhere else which I didn't catch.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@InTheMiddle2 @MaryElizabethSings 

85% of Americans, even most NRA members, support more controls on that powerful group which is making a profit on the propaganda it feeds Americans in order to keep its profit and power intact.

honested
honested

Well, now that paul has seen the 'will of the people' (which everyone saw except him and his father for the last few decades) when will the other dead-enders (who might be named, carson, fiorina, sansscrotum, and maybe a few more) stop wasting other people's money?

td1234
td1234

@honested Rand can work on keeping his Senate seat now is Republican hands and leading the liberty caucus 

ByteMe
ByteMe

Conservative talk radio needs Hillary to win.  You can't sell their anger story without a powerful opponent with obvious super-powers.  It's best for their bottom line for that story to happen.


So we have Cruz and Trump.  Watch them attack Rubio over his "squishiness" during the next few weeks.


If Trump or Cruz become President, what are they going to do... whine more about some grandmotherly Representative from California?

Peachs
Peachs

Rubio is not the man. How do you justify his immigration stance? He will get the desperate Christian Right to vote for him and will go into the general election a full fledged Latin to pick up that low hanging fruit. Trump and maybe Cruz will convence to mob of that this week.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@_GodlessHeathen_ Ask Limbaugh whether he was doing awesomely during those years vs now or the Clinton years.

Peachs
Peachs

He has said he did better in Clinton days. Too trendy when crazy Republicans are in office and you have to own a lot of baggage!

td1234
td1234

@ByteMe I guess you did not listen to Rush or Hannity during the GWB years. Holding your own elected officials feet to the fire keeps the audience ratings very high. 

honested
honested

@td1234 @ByteMe @_GodlessHeathen_ 

Why didn't lush rimjob use his 'cognitive powers' to help prevent the Iraqi War of Choice?

Was it just because he was too busy cheerleading he couldn't see how wrong he was?

honested
honested

@td1234 @ByteMe 

Why didn't their bogus 'holding feet to the fire' prevent any of the terrible, expensive, deadly miscues that happened from 2001-2008?

Or were they more concerned about ratings than about America?