Well, the smoke has cleared. The votes have been counted, and Ted Cruz and Donald Trump — the two favorites of grass roots conservatives — were standing on top of the hill with the most votes. The results should thin the herd a little. The money will start being funneled more to the folks who look like they have a real shot at 1600 Penn. On the Democrat side, Martin O’Malley is hanging it up. There’s still a crowd of folks on the GOP side who appear to have overstayed their welcome. (Yes, we’re looking at you: Jeb Bush, Jim Gilmore, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee.)
The talking heads are busy spinning away on this vote. Meanwhile, the campaigns and the rest of the traveling circus are heading off to New Hampshire for the next big test. After that, the Carolinas will be at ground zero for this political traveling circus. We’ll be seeing and going through an awful lot of what Iowa and New Hampshire have been seeing and hearing.
What can we take away from Iowa? Here are a few things we noticed around here at Haymaker HQ:
- Hillary ain’t all that. The drive bys and the DC crowd have been moaning about what a juggernaut Team Hillary is. We heard it in 2008, but Barry Obama took the wind out of those sails. This time around we’ve heard the same thing. Yet, it appears that loon Bernie Sanders — who isn’t even registered as a Democrat — has given Ma Clinton a too-close-to-call fight.
- New Hampshire actually has a better record at picking the eventual nominee than Iowa does. This was the 10th presidential caucus since 1980. In the NINE prior caucuses, there were only FIVE occasions where the Iowa winner went on to win the GOP nomination. Since 1980, the New Hampshire winner has gone on to win the GOP nomination SEVEN times. (Since 1948, there have been ONLY FOUR people who have won the New Hampshire GOP primary but failed to win the nomination.)
- Frank, conservative rhetoric can win. You would think this would finally shut up all of those consultants who claim the GOP needs to water itself down. (But it won’t.) The two guys in the Iowa race who delivered frank, unfiltered hard-nosed conservatism came out on top.
- Logistics matters as much as presentation. It’s one thing to have great rallies and give great speeches. It’s another entirely to be able to effectively get your folks to the polls. People were wondering if The Donald could translate all of that enthusiasm at his rallies into an effective GOTV effort. The final vote tally showed things to be a lot closer than what the polls were showing. It looks like The Donald might have been outworked on the ground by The Ted and The Marco. Team Trump needs to step up their behind the scenes, GOTV efforts if they want this phenomenon to keep rolling. Sure, The Donald is firing up the folks and entertaining them. But remember: There IS an election out there, as well. I know The Donald has people on the ground here in The Carolinas, as does Cruz. Some elected types were with Bush, but have slithered over to Rubio.