The Iowa caucuses were last night, and the outcome was largely as one expected. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) defeated failed casino owner Donald Trump and the rest of the GOP field of wannabes. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won in a photo-finish, defeating Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is not even a registered Democrat, is 74, and a socialist Jew with a Brooklyn accent. The lessons here are that organization wins and that the Clinton campaign may actually be as dysfunctional as it was in 2008.
Mr. Cruz won with 27.7% of the vote, good enough to win 8 delegates to the national convention. Mr. Trump’s 24.3% scored him 7 delegates, and Mr. Rubio’s 23.1% earned him 7 as well. Rounding out the field, Dr. Ben Carson won 3 delegates with 9.3% of the vote, Rand Paul’s 4.5% and Jeb Bush’s 2.8% resulted in 1 delegate for each of them. The others won no delegates. It will take 1,237 to get the nomination. This is going to go on for a long time yet.
Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser to Trump who left the campaign in August, said Trump had the supporters, but he couldn’t make them caucus-goers. “Trump created a large enough pool of people to win the Iowa caucuses and unfortunately his campaign was unable to convert them to voters.” He underperformed compared to his polling numbers. Meanwhile, local experts say that Mr. Cruz had the best get out the vote effort and organization the state GOP had ever seen.
Several of the GOP candidates are now losing their viability. Chris Christie, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are going nowhere. Since the New Hampshire primary is just a week away, there probably isn’t any point in quitting before that, but there is very little reason to stay in unless one of them can garner 20% or more of the vote there.
On the Democratic side, the vote count is difficult to determine because of the variant of the alternate vote system used. The score, however, is best measured by “state delegate equivalents,” which are basically predictions of who will attend the statewide party convention. That convention will choose delegates to the national nominating convention. With one more precinct to report, Mrs. Clinton had secured 699.57 state delegate equivalents and Senator Sanders has been awarded 695.49. Martin O’Malley got 7.68 and has suspended his campagin. The single outstanding precinct has 2.28 SDEs at stake. In other worse, Mrs. Clinton won by the thinnest of margins.
In a general election, the thinnest of margins or a landslide makes no difference. In an American nominating race, margins matter a great deal. Mrs. Clinton was snakebit whens he lost to Barack Obama in Iowa in 2008, and had she finished second in Iowa this time, a similar situation would exist — the inevitable candidate lost. She won, and her people are putting a check mark by it and moving on.
However defeating Mr. Sanders by a small fraction of a percentage point ought to give them pause and fill them with shame. Mr. Sanders has no business running so strongly. One is simply astonished that he is even close. His strength is a direct reflection of the Clintonista camp’s failures. He will likely win in New Hampshire, while she can win in South Carolina, and Nevada is up for grabs, depending on organization.
Then, the nation comes to Super Tuesday, where he can run up delegates while losing thanks to proportional representation. If he can win a few states by large margins in such a situation while losing by small margins, he will have replicated the Obama 2008 campaign’s success.
This journal remains convinced that the race in November will come down to Mr. Trump against Mrs. Clinton. Nothing happened yesterday that changes that prediction. Mrs. Clinton will be saved by the superdelegates and party machinery antics, and Mr. Trump will do much better in primaries than in caucuses, where he still manages a quarter of the vote despite a weak ground game.