Some Landslide.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Snatches of two bits of political commentary pretty well encapsulate my assessment of the "landslide" outcome in the GOP's Iowa caucuses the other day.

First, Iowa hasn't exactly been predictive lately:

In 2008, holy roller Mike Huckabee won the caucuses in the red-shaded Iowan counties shown above. (Image by Kroisaurus, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
[Nikki] Haley caught some flak from DeSantis when she told a group of New Hampshire voters that they "correct" Iowa's results, but her statement is supported by recent history. Remember Presidents Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum or Ted Cruz, the last three winners of the Iowa caucuses? Neither do the history books.

One must travel back nearly a quarter-century to the year 2000 to find the last winner of the GOP Iowa caucuses who went on to secure the nomination. [bold added]
Caucuses aren't polls of the general public, and whoever it is -- strong partisans, I presume -- who participate in the Iowa caucuses have been out of touch in the theocratic/social conservative direction lately.

Trump is the man for that anti-freedom lot in this election.

Second: 51%.

That's all?

I agree with Phil Boas, who argues in USA Today that this result is a weak showing, because Trump is, for all practical purposes, running as an incumbent. (And that would be true despite polling showing that 65% (!) of the caucus participants there are brain-dead enough to believe Trump actually won the 2020 election.)
Taken together, the "not Trump" coalition of candidates won nearly half the vote in a state that ABC News calls "overwhelmingly white and rural." In other words, these were ideal conditions for a Trump landslide.

But Iowa is not the national electorate. And Trump's Iowa triumph can hardly serve as a bellwether for the fall. [bold added]
Boas notes a big incentive for independents who want a choice other than Trump or Biden to vote in New Hampshire's Republican primary at a time when polling shows Haley smoking Biden by 17% in a head-to-head matchup.

Overall, while it was disappointing to see Trump run away with Iowa, his winning there was predictable. But his margin there -- under ideal conditions for him -- wasn't the catastrophe Democrats and Trump supporters were hoping for, albeit for different, co-dependent reasons.

New Hampshire will give a better picture of whether Nikki Haley can topple Donald Trump.

-- CAV

P.S. One bit of good news out of the caucuses: DeSantis, who has come to represent a more competent (and therefore dangerous) version of everything bad about Donald Trump, may have fatally wounded his future political aspirations:
The DeSantis campaign was fundamentally a product of a certain class of the GOP's elite: people who admired Donald Trump's willingness to break the traditional norms of American politics but saw him as basically déclassé or ineffectual. These are the sorts of conservatives who look admiringly at Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán, seeing his use of legalistic arcana to crush liberal opposition as a model for how to fight a culture war and win. [links omitted]
This is the direction a significant part of the conservative movement has been headed for some time, and unless we get a "more competent DeSantis" in the near future, the Iowa caucuses may well have bought some time to fight for freedom.

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