Can Iowa Predict the GOP Nominee?

The Wigwam

This is not one of those articles about how the winner of Iowa almost never goes on to win the GOP nomination, or how New Hampshire tends to be more predictive. The saying goes, “Iowa picks corn and New Hampshire picks the President.” Rather, we’re asking if we can build a state-by-state electorate model based on the demographic data and voting patterns in Iowa. I know what you’re thinking, “Is Iowa white enough to accurately represent the GOP electorate?” It’s hard to say. According to the Iowa entrance polls all the non-white GOP voters caucused for some candidate with the initials N.A. (whom I’ve never even heard of). .


First, the Republicans

America on Fire(It’s the slow motion car crash you want to read about anyway)

I think Ted Cruz believes he actually is the Constitution. We the people are his stream of conscience, and in his gut are balled the founding fathers. The fiery sermon he gave during his victory speech after winning the Iowa Caucuses last night, full of vigor and self-aggrandizement not seen since William Jennings Bryan’s Cross of Gold, left little doubt as to why his campaign logo is an upside-down American Flag on fire:  We’re all going to hell unless Ted Cruz saves us.

Cruz started his speech by declaring, “Our rights come from our Creator.” And it was not entirely clear he didn’t mean himself.

Ted’s campaign has become explicitly evangelical. In Iowa, he declared that we must “awaken and energize the body of Christ.” (An image sure to elicit nightmares in Catholic children everywhere, or just anyone who’s seen a Crucifix before) Cruz’s victory was widespread across evangelicals, Tea Partiers, and college graduates, but mostly they were people that describe themselves as “very conservative.” He has set himself up in a strong position for when the southern states are brought up to vote on Super Tuesday. He will, however, have to face off against Trump again in South Carolina in three weeks. But who knows what shape Trump will be in then. .

How to Follow the Iowa Caucuses

The Wigwam

Iowa CountiesIowa sits between reliably blue states to the east and solid red states to the west. Accordingly, Iowa is divided east and west, Democratic and Republican. This makes turnout for liberal Democrats (Sanders) and moderate Republicans (Rubio and Bush) important in the city centers and eastern counties, while conservatives (Clinton, Trump, and Cruz) will generally pull in votes from the central and western rural areas of the state. In 2008, Obama swamped Clinton in eastern Iowa. Expect Sanders to similarly perform well there; however, Clinton lost many votes in central Iowa to dreamy-eyed John Edwards, a set back she does not face this time around.

The Bellwethers

Cedar and Boone counties are rural counties located next to major urban areas (major by Iowa standards), each has a population with fewer than 25% college graduates, and both had close to 50/50 Obama/Romney vote totals in 2012. Cedar registered a total of 712 votes in 2008 in the GOP caucus, a typical sample size of a public opinion poll, and Boone hauled in a whopping 1282 ballots cast. But their size means they report quickly, and their early vote totals will tell us for whom evangelical and Tea Party voters are caucusing across the state. .

What to watch in Iowa: GOP


Donald Trump needs to win or finish within 2-3% in a close second. His whole philosophy and appeal is that he is a winner:

“We’re going to win so much — win after win after win — that you’re going to be begging me: ‘Please, Mr. President, let us lose once or twice. We can’t stand it any more.’ And I’m going to say: ‘No way. We’re going to keep winning. We’re never going to lose. We’re never, ever going to lose.”

-Trump, quoted by the Washington Post

If Trump is not one of the winners Monday, well that makes him a loser, and his binary brain will explode.

Ted Cruz has the easiest night. He’ll finish first or second and be a major force with no one on his right flank. He just needs to break 20%. If he fails to do that, the establishment attacks of the past two weeks will have worked to eat away his support, and they will crescendo going into New Hampshire.

Marco Rubio needs to finish third. The third place finisher will likely absorb the “Stop Cruz and Trump” momentum going forward. Everyone knows Marco’s thirsty, but can he win states?

Rand Paul needs a haircut.

Jeb Bush needs his exclamation point more than ever. If he finishes third, he’ll grab the “Big Mo” in the words of his father. At minimum, he needs to look like he tied Rubio.

Is Ben Carson still in the race? Anyone who loses to Dr. Carson in Iowa is, officially or unofficially, finished. I’m looking at you Jeb!

Chris Christie needs to stay alive with >5% so that he can withdraw after New Hampshire and save face.

John Kasich only cares about New Hampshire. He’s played the expectation game well.

Carly Fiorina.

Mike Huckabee will be there.

“Santorum” describes Rich Santorum’s campaign pretty well. It seems like it’s been 60 years since Rick was dueling for the nomination, probably because he still lives in the 1950’s. Zing. Let the fight for Rick Santorum’s supporter begin.