As predicted in this space a few weeks ago, the Republican voters of Iowa have rejected Trump. Not by much, admittedly, but he was as late as last weekend being trumpeted as a runaway winner.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that they selected Ted Cruz. Well they had to go somewhere, I suppose, and coming from an agricultural state with deep conservative roots they were unlikely to go for the liberal alternative, of which there isn’t one in sight in the GOP anyway.
Cruz thanked the voters of Iowa and God, I think in that order. Whatever the order, the crisp winter air was thick with prayers of thanksgiving to the Almighty.
Marco Rubio did well to run Trump a close third. His credibility will have been done no harm, though what the difference is between him and Cruz I’m hard-pressed to articulate. Actually, it’s in that last word. Rubio is the more articulate.
If the Republican race is confused, the Democrats are in a mess. Hillary Clinton is the closest to a national figure on either side – a former secretary of state and wife of a former president – and she can’t beat a geriatric with a barely credible left-wing manifesto. She may squeak through Iowa – I’m told the toss of a coin may decide it – but her credibility has suffered a serious blow. Pre-caucus opinion polls suggest that voters think she is more electable than Sanders but that she is less trustworthy. And while she beats Sanders among older voters, she seems to have little appeal to younger ones – which is a very bad sign, and astonishing given that her opponent is well into his eighth decade.
And so, it’s on to New Hampshire, where anything can happen and often does.
Trump may prevail there, but my money is on Rubio making inroads into the Trump and Cruz votes and gathering momentum as candidates fall by the wayside.
Hillary must surely win for the Democrats, if not in New Hampshire then in the long run. Who else is there for middle-of-the-roaders and liberals? Mike Bloomberg, perhaps. He’d get my vote, but I’m not confident I’ll get to exercise it. Bloomberg will not enter the race if each of the main parties has a credible candidate and as likely as not the two will be Clinton and Rubio.
It could be worse, I suppose. It looked worse a few days ago. Thank you Iowa.