Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Iowa Caucus Thoughts

You'd have to be crazy to see what happened on the GOP side as anything other than a huge win for Sen. Rubio. You don't have to win Iowa; you just have to do better than people thought you would, and he did that, coming close to winning outright. Cruz won, but not in a way that scares his rivals. He played up his evangelical credentials, and was rewarded. But New Hampshire doesn't vote like that. The nominee doesn't have to win that state, either, but you have to show strength. Cruz will get crushed. Though Rubio is at least as conservative on the issues as Cruz, these nominations are about style and perception as well. Rubio seems moderate, because the rhetoric in this "preseason" was so absurdly extreme. The reality is that Rubio would be the most conservative Republican nominee since Reagan. What exactly that means is anybody's guess. But if moderates and big-money donors flock to Rubio as the best alternative for them, it testifies to formidable political skill. Or I might say, personal skill. If the risk-averse big shots like you, knowing they don't agree with you, then your likability is pretty high.

On the Democratic side, Hillary's virtual tie with Bernie Sanders speaks opposing truths simultaneously: Clinton is a fatally flawed candidate who will win anyway. She is hoping for Trump or Cruz, because she can't win otherwise. That's how I see it. If she gets indicted, we'll see how well-liked Martin O'Malley is, because it'd be a speed date.

Bernie is a True Believer in a party of cynics and pragmatists, and I can't see any scenario where he wins the nomination. If Clinton weren't so dreadful, she'd be thanking Heaven. Anyone with an ounce of charisma and realism would trounce her, and she knows it. (See 2008.)

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