Iowa Fireworks: Trump Strikes Out; Clinton-Saunders in a Squeaker; Rubio Rising

Marco-Rubio.pngHumpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall

Humpty Dumpty Had a Great Fall

All the King's Men and all the King's Horses

Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty Together Again

With sincere apologies to the anonymous author of that popular kindergarten jingle.

True, comparing Donald J. Trump, 69, to Humpty Dumpty may not be fair, but let's face it, folks. Trump had a 28 to 23 percent national poll lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 45, when the unpredictable Republican and Democratic Iowa Caucuses began at 7 p.m. Monday. Nevada odds-makers earlier had given Trump the victory by at least a 5 to 1 margin.

Well, what do you think happened?

With 99 percent of the votes tallied by 1:37 a.m. Tuesday, Cruz had beaten Trump by a margin of 28 to 24 percent. So much for polls and odds-makers on the Republican Presidential nominee side.

But wait, that's not all. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 44, placed third with a 23 percent score, only one point behind Trump. Rubio has climbed from a 10 percent poll rating six weeks ago. He is the man the demoralized Republican Party is now quietly rallying behind, even though Cruz appears to be the headliner for the moment.                   

On the Democratic avenue, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 69, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 74, were in a virtual tie at almost 50-50. Clinton was statistically ahead by two tenths of a point.

But it was a bad night for Clinton and a strong night for Sanders.  Her backers had predicted a walk-a-way victory, especially after leading Sanders by a 45 to 42 poll percentage margin as the caucuses in Iowa's 99 counties and 1,671 precincts got under way.

Well, what do you think happened?

Young women and men especially voted for Sanders. Clinton had frequently boasted that she had the women's vote locked up. So much for counting your chickens before they roost. Or something like that.

A total of 190,000 Iowans voted for Sanders. That was the difference. Clinton had expected about the same turnout but she had not counted on Sanders' supporters rushing to the caucuses in surprising strength.

Still, Clinton was already looking to the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary where she is already favored to win by a hefty margin.  Sanders' followers will challenge that prediction, for sure.

In his victory speech, Cruz was not shy in telling the world, "This is a victory for the grass roots.  Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee and the next President of the United States will not be chosen by the media...will not be chosen by the Washington Establishment...will not be chosen by the Washington Lobbyists...but will be chosen by we, the people, the American people."

Trump was gracious in his windup speech. "I am honored to have been a part of this historic event," he said in a subdued tone, waving to his followers as he left the room.

He said nothing about losing to Cruz. He has always preached being a winner was the only goal in life for him and his followers. He had 170,000 Iowans backing him at the caucuses but he had hoped for at least 200,000 to assure a victory.

What did that show?  It showed a lot of Iowa voters didn't buy Trump's celebrity-themed campaign that featured his signature jet and helicopter arriving a several of his speaking appearances over the last six months.

It will be a real question mark now as to how he will do seven days from today, Feb. 9, at the New Hampshire primary. Trump again is heavily favored to win in New Hampshire, even though the Cruz stumping machine is now in high gear.

Trump, however, remained positive on his chances of winning the New Hampshire primary...

"We will go on to get the Republican nomination and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie," Trump told supporters. "We finished second, and I have to say I am just honored."

However, should Trump again come in second in New Hampshire, as he did in Iowa, I predict his reign in the fast lane of this election year will be over.

 Even though billionaire Trump could probably buy and sell Cruz's assets, so far Trump has spent only $19 million of his own money in the campaign, compared to $47 million laid out by Cruz's backers.

Trump's at-times-boisterous personality, social media presence and large rallies failed to overcome Cruz's more traditional approach to Iowa's retail politics. Cruz spent months touring the state and reaching out to evangelical voters.

The win sets him up as a formidable contender in the delegate-rich, Southern states that crowd the GOP calendar in the coming weeks.

It also provides hope for GOP movement conservatives that one of their own can become the nominee for the first time since Ronald Reagan.

Rubio's strong showing could set him up as the best placed potential establishment candidate to take on "outsider" challengers Cruz and Trump.

"This is the moment they said would never happen," Rubio told his supporters after the preliminary voting results were announced.  "For months, they told us we had no chance.

"They told me that I needed to wait my turn; that I needed to wait in line. But tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message -- after seven years of Barack Obama, we are not waiting any longer to take our country back."

The caucuses resulted in two casualties -- one on each side. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, both dropped their candidacies after faring poorly. Huckabee racked up a measly 3 percent vote; O'Malley, 1 percent.

I had predicted nine months ago Clinton would become the first woman President of the United States. Now, I'm not so sure.

I had also indicated Trump could probably become the first non-political President. Now, I'm so sure of that, either.

And that's the way it is at this moment.


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