Let’s get back to basics here and wake up from fever dreams.
Ted Cruz won Iowa and did it impressively. The final turnout was 186,289, of which Cruz received 27.72 percent, or 51,646 votes. If the turnout had been lower, say 135,000, a number that Decision Desk founder Brandon Finnigan was more comfortable with, Cruz would have had over 30 percent of the vote.
In any case, Iowa Republicans smashed their 2012 caucus attendance record to smithereens, besting it by 64,000 voters. The models and polls (including the vaunted Ann Selzer) all showed Trump winning big in that scenario. In fact, Cruz beat Trump by 6,238 votes, and most of the undecideds who showed up in the cities Trump needed to carry broke for Rubio instead.
But Cruz dominated. He won 56 of 99 counties: Nearly 57 percent. He finished second behind Rubio in Polk (Des Moines), where Trump didn’t do nearly as well as he needed to.
Even more basic: Cruz has never lost an election of any kind. He won his Senate primary in Texas; he won the general election in Texas, both against significant and well-funded opposition.
Now Cruz faces another well-funded, establishment-backed candidate–two if you include Rubio–but I’m referring to Trump.
Donald Trump has never won an election of any kind* (at least a public election). Those who now tout the fact that Reagan lost Iowa before winning the nomination in 1980 need to face the fact that Reagan was a seasoned campaigner. He had run for office since 1966 (that’s 14 years for the math-challenged), winning the nomination for governor with over 64 percent of the vote, and beating incumbent Democrat Pat Brown by a million votes in the general election.
Reagan ran for president, as a Republican, never as a third party, three times before he won the office. Whoever is thinking Donald Trump is another Ronald Reagan is delusional.
And now Ted Cruz is a winner, and Donald Trump is the thing he hates most in the entire universe: a loser. Until just about an hour ago, the last tweet on Trump’s Twitter timeline is over 12 hours old. It’s dead silence from The Donald. Undoubtedly, Trump expected this loss could happen, and he’s prepared for it. But you’re never really prepared to accept a loss (believe me, I’ve worked enough losing campaigns).
From this point on, we know two important things. Ted Cruz can win, and a media-fueled demagogue is not unstoppable. Now that we know the boogeyman is not hiding under the bed, let’s go forward without all the fear and nail biting, and take America back for conservatives.
*Wikipedia notes that Trump won two Reform Party primaries in 2000. I dispute this. The Reform Party wasn’t organized enough to run primaries, and in any case, Trump withdrew early after the party started to disintegrate.