How Trump Blew An Easy Win

February 04, 2016

It was quite a turnaround. After he led in Iowa most of December, Ted Cruz’s numbers started falling Jan. 6, after Donald Trump declared him ineligible for the presidency because he was born in Canada. But Mr. Cruz unleashed a disciplined, data-driven get-out-the-vote effort aimed at social conservatives. The Texan won Iowa with 28% of the vote, four points ahead of where he stood going into caucus day, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Then Mr. Cruz gave the evening’s most undisciplined victory speech, droning on for 32½ minutes, nearly as long as the other major candidates combined. He said his win meant that the GOP nominee would not be chosen by “the media,” the “Washington establishment” or “lobbyists.” Yet The Donald is championed by none of those.

Mr. Cruz expressed, at length, his thanks for 800,000 contributions, a volunteer who quit his job to help in Iowa, two Chicago law students who spent their break canvassing the state, a teenage Texan who made 823 phone calls in one day, his campaign’s top Iowa officials, his cousin Bebe, and his parents. Approaching the half-hour mark, his promise that “morning is coming” seemed a threat about how long he would speak.

As impressive as his win was, Iowa is a state tailor-made for Mr. Cruz. His challenge now is New Hampshire, which lacks Iowa’s substantial number of evangelicals, and where he hasn’t spent the time or built the same kind of organization.

Going into Monday’s caucus Mr. Trump led by nearly five points in the Real Clear Politics average. But he barely came in second, with 24% of the final vote. Mr. Trump’s refusal to attend the last debate, focus on the ground game or even have surrogates at many caucus meetings contributed to his defeat. He acted as if traditional rules didn’t apply to him, and killed his chance for an easy victory.

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Photo credit: By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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