It took a day or two for it to really crystallize for me. But has there ever been a candidate who not just won Iowa but won it unexpectedly and fairly decisively and yet got so little positive bump, momentum, attention or even simple human empathy because of it? The rather strong, though unstated assumption from the commentariat seems to be: Yeah, you won Iowa. Great. Good luck ever winning anywhere else.
There’s been a lot of focus and pumping up of Rubio. And that’s not surprising. Rubio’s been kindling waiting for a spark. The press wants a new story. He’s the most plausible national candidate. He genuinely did overperform in Iowa.
But there’s also been a lot of talk about Trump. A lot of it negative of course or openly doubting whether the best days of his campaign are behind him. But there’s also discussion of whether he can maintain his lead in New Hampshire, whether he can regain his dominance mojo, and so forth.
This Trump/Rubes chatter is supported by the latest tracking polls which show Rubio moving into second place and Trump holding his own – so far – in first. (Cruz is still close to tied with Rubio.)
But what discussion is there about Ted Cruz’s chances going forward really anywhere? Seems to me there’s very little.
Part of this is certainly that the unique and enduring nature of these two states. A diehard conservative often wins Iowa, especially if they have an evangelical sheen. The same kind of candidate has a much harder time of it in New Hampshire where the conservatism is less extreme and less infused with religion. But even a no-hoper like Santorum managed to get more Sant-mentum in 2012 than Cruz is getting now.
Well, first was the victory speech that went on forever. I do not remember a break out winner in Iowa ever having the networks cut away from his speech before he was done. Like ever. But it puts the cable nets in a tough position if you go longer than a half hour. We tried switching to CSpan but even CSpan cut to other programming before he was done!
Then there’s this on-going chatter about whatever happened with the Cruz-backed rumor that Carson was dropping out on caucus night. My own take is that CNN has more responsibility for this than they’ve yet let on. But the Cruz camp definitely mammothly overstated what CNN reported and made the cardinal error of leaving a clear paper or digital trail. Even though Trump’s call for the results to be thrown out is ridiculous, the whole thing does have the feel of a dickish move from a college student council election. Over-clever, weaselly, oleaginous. Classic Cruz.
Of course, at the end of the day, remember that everyone hates Ted Cruz. It may simply be that or the fact that he came off so badly in the last debate. Regardless, I’m curious whether others are seeing the same thing. Has anyone ever gotten less of a bump – in polls, media attention, anything – than Ted Cruz coming out of Iowa.