Here's the Horse Sense: Cruz's win means very little, but Rubio's strong 3rd place finish could mean doom for the nomination.
The Ted Cruz win in the Iowa Caucuses really isn't an important story except that it allows Cruz to continue his campaign. Iowa means little to nothing when it comes to the nomination. The real news is the establishment candidate Marco Rubio coming in with a strong 3rd place finish when he was a distant third in the polls prior to the vote. How did such a thing happen and could it mean the establishment will throw all their power behind him to force his nomination on the party?
Cruz supporters and some others are thinking this is a predictor of Cruz ultimately winning the nomination.
Thirteen polls had Donald Trump winning the caucuses by 4 points. But those shocked by his second place finish must not be aware that Iowa, possibly more than any other contest, almost never ends up with results that reflect the polls. And, up until about 2 weeks ago, Trump was not seen as being able to win in Iowa. Cruz was always the favorite except for the last two weeks when he had some poll problems. So, to say that Trump losing was a surprise just shows naivete.
As the Des Moines Register reported, since the Republican caucuses in Iowa began in 1976, the results have rarely reflected the nomination of the party. The past winners that went on to become the nominee are:
- 1976 - Gerald Ford
- 1996 - Bob Dole
- 2000 - George W. Bush
So, don't think that last night's results mean much.
The establishment GOP candidates have had a terrible time getting traction in the national polls or the 3 early voting states except New Hampshire (the other 2 are Iowa and South Carolina). For Rubio to come in a strong third place should be a surprise. In fact, it's such a surprise that some are saying that it's downright fishy. Some are even questioning whether Microsoft's involvement in the vote count could have caused tampering with the votes since Microsoft is Rubio's second largest campaign contributor.
With the polls being consistently unreliable when it comes to Iowa, Rubio may truly have won a strong third place. But with the shenanigans known all too often in politics, the idea that somebody is tampering with the results certainly isn't as much a conspiracy theory as it may be somewhat reasonable doubt about the results.
After all, if Rubio is positioned as a strong 3rd place and Trump is in 2nd place coming out of Iowa, it's a strong case the establishment can make to support Rubio above others in the upcoming contests. New Hampshire is a place Rubio should be able to do well. That part of the country is far more moderate than Iowa and not full of evangelicals like Iowa. The makeup of New Hampshire would not traditionally be receptive to the show that Cruz puts on.
While the establishment may not be able to push a candidate like Rubio far enough to win the nomination outright, if they can reduce the successes of Trump in the primaries they could force a brokered convention. That would be the one way they could be sure that neither of the candidates they hate most, Trump and Cruz, would get the nomination and they could use the brokered convention to force a Rubio nomination.
We have no way of knowing whether there was any tampering last night, but whether there was or not, this could play into the establishment's hands more than anything else to once again give us a loser candidate and a Democrat victory.