As some of you may of noticed the Republican party is having an insane contest to see who will be their nominee. Every national poll has given Trump a sizable lead, but national polls are…well frankly useless. The real polls you should be watching are in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. These are the first caucus and primaries in the country and they set the tone for the national elections.
For example, in 2012 Rick Santourm won Iowa, but barely, Mitt Romney won New Hampshire handily and Newt Gingrich won South Carolina. None got over 50% of the vote and that election dragged on, with Mitt Romney finally beating them. In 2008 Mike Huckabee won Iowa, and John McCain won New Hampshire and South Carolina. Those early states in both elections set the tone of those campaigns.In 2012 Romney won after a long series of primary battles, but he continued to win the majority. In 2008, McCain pretty much wrapped it up with his victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
In 2016 some trends are forming. First in Iowa, polls are starting to show Trump down, losing to Ted Cruz. A lot of GOP insiders have been saying he is someone to watch and it is really starting to show. He is aggressively courting the evangelical vote in that state and is a well known enemy of the Republican establishment. He has done well in the debates and the base loves him. He also has a ton of money and is building an impressive organization in Iowa, something Trump hasn’t done.
Iowa is a caucus, not a primary. People don’t just vote, but sit around and talk about who they should support. Then as a group they vote. It takes a lot longer than a normal vote so only the most well organized and committed campaigns win. Increasingly GOP insiders have been betting on a Cruz win in Iowa, not Trump.
The picture is very different in New Hampshire. Trump has a commanding lead their that is at least ten points, but who is his rival there? None other than Marco Rubio. He has done extremely well in the debates and while it hasn’t translated into Cruz level of fundraising he has done remarkably well nonetheless. Even outmaneuvering his old mentor Jeb Bush. In short, if someone other than Donald Trump wins in New Hampshire, it’ll be Rubio. Normally I would say Trump wouldn’t stand a chance in the state but the Pro-Business moderates that normally win the state are badly divided. Between Rubio, Kasich, Bush, and Christe; any four of them could rally that group and win, but that division is making a huge opening for Trump. If it keeps, up Trump will win New Hampshire, but if one of those four starts running away with support they will most likely become the establishment favorite. That will most likely be Rubio.
And then there was South Carolina. If you are a Trump hater there is no good news for you out of this state. Honestly, unless his campaign implodes, I don’t see him losing the state. The only other person that is anywhere near him is Ben Carson, and he has only been losing ground. It is possible that Rubio or Cruz might be able to rally support and beat him here, but honestly I think the smart money is on Trump at this point.
It looks like a three man race is shaping up, between Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. Trump’s base of support appears to be from working class voters deeply unhappy with immigration, but also with Washington and how powerful elites in the business community seem to run it. He is a populist through and through and is reminiscent of other right-wing populists like George Wallace. I honestly have no idea if he will win the nomination, and his supporters seem to truly love him.
Ted Cruz is the conservative’s conservative. He has staked out just about every far right policy there is and stuck his flag to claim it. He is a darling of the base and a royal pain to his Republican Senate colleagues. He is also an impressive fundraiser and is racking up an impressive list of evangelical endorsements. Both Cruz and Trump are right-wing populists to be sure, but while Trump is a demagogue Cruz is an ideologue. He really believes in Conservatism and it has won him a great many friends in the base, and enemies amongst more pragmatic Republican’s who view him has a bomb thrower.
Marco Rubio is the golden boy. He won one of the toughest races in the 2010 election and has proven himself to be a skilled debater and a shrewd politician. Honestly, if he had ten more years experience I would suspect he’d have crushed his rivals at this point. He has also ideally positioned himself to pick up every other group in the GOP I haven’t mentioned. He seems to have made himself everyone’s second favorite choice. After New Hampshire and South Carolina a lot of people will drop out and most of their support will go to Marco Rubio. Once that happens we will be in for quite a ride.
So there you have it, the GOP race looks like it’ll be a three man horse race between Trump, Cruz and Rubio. Don’t ask to tell you who wins because honestly, I don’t think anyone in the GOP knows.
If you liked this, check out our other articles!