Today is the big day! Or is it?
Iowa has always been about more than the final standings on caucus night. It’s about beating the political-pundit prediction market as the campaign heads to New Hampshire and beyond. Now it appears that Cruz, if he doesn’t win outright — and he trails Trump in most recent surveys, including The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Saturday evening — could finish ahead of Rubio and yet still be cast as the evening’s big loser.
“Expectations, in my opinion, are far more important than one person getting first place,” Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, told Politico. “Now, I don’t want to downplay that. The biggest ticket out of here is who gets first place. But there are far more tickets than that.”
If there is one hard and fast rule about our quadrennial “first in the nation” fooferaw in the Hawkeye State it’s that Iowa doesn’t matter, except when it does. We won’t know this year until after it is over and the Very Serious People tell us whether it matters or not.
Here is a list of the winners and losers over the years. In 2008 it was Very Important and Historic that Barack Obama won. MSNBC practically declared him to be the unbeatable nominee until Hillary went and won New Hampshire a week later.
On the other hand Mike Huckabee won in 2008 and went on to finish a distant second place for the nomination behind John McCain (and barely ahead of Mitt Romney who dropped out early.)
I have no idea who is going to win tonight. Okay, that’s not quite true. I know that either Hillary or Bernie will win on the Democrat side. The GOP race seems to be between Trump, Cruz and Rubio, and the general consensus is that Rubio won’t finish higher than second.
Eight days from now they will vote in New Hampshire, and suddenly nobody will be talking about Iowa any more. Then two weeks after that come South Carolina and Nevada. Super Tuesday takes place on March 2nd, and a bunch of states and delegates will be up for grabs.
Once again, the single biggest prize in the primaries won’t vote until June.
So buckle up, kiddoes, the fun is about to start. For you guys. Not for me. I don’t get to vote until it’s almost summer.