Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Trump Trip

Donald Trump tripped in Iowa last night.

How did it happen?

What happens next?

A few quick observations.

  • Success in politics sits atop a 3-legged stool. Name id, money and organization. Trump has the name id. He supposedly has the money but he hasn't really spent much on his campaign. For example, his most recent financial report indicates that he spent more on hats in the last quarter ($450,000) than he did on either strategy consulting ($281,000) or on his data vendor ($235,000.

  • Ted Cruz won in Iowa because he had a much better organizational framework than Trump. Cruz visited all 99 counties and he had the ground game to trip up Trump. Cruz also spent heavily on voter data analytics to target the voters he needed and didn't worry about hats. As a Texan, I think Cruz understands what he means to have a big hat but no cattle!
  • Trump also made a major error when he did not show up for the last debate. In doing so, he opened the door for Marco Rubio to surge to within 1% of Trump. It would appear that a good part of the Rubio surge came out of Trump. Worse for Trump is that the aura around him that he is a political and media mastermind is broken.  
  • The final caucus numbers in Iowa also point to some interesting times ahead in this race. If I am Trump I don't like this math----Cruz(28%)+Rubio(23%)+Carson(9%)=60%, Trump=24%. Where does Trump grow his support as the race narrows? He has negatives approaching 50% among all Republican voters. His upside has always looked questionable considering his favorability ratings. Can he convert voters from these other candidates going forward?
  • Rubio clearly set himself apart as the "Establishment" candidate in the race. His 24% compares to 3% for Jeb Bush, 2% for Kasich and 2% for Christie. It will interesting to see whether Rubio can use the Iowa results to springboard past those three in New Hampshire.
  • The Iowa numbers still show that it appears to be challenge to win the GOP nomination in the "Establishment" lane.  Consider the percentage of votes that went to the "Outsider" candidates. Cruz(28%)+Trump(24%)+Carson(9%)+Fiorina(2%)=63%,  All Others 37%. This still points to Trump and Cruz in the inside lane. If Rubio falls, does Trump become the "Establishment" candidate? Can Cruz take out Trump setting up a Cruz-Rubio showdown?
  • Despite Jeb Bush only pulling 3% of the vote in Iowa he reportedly has over $50 million of cash in his SuperPac. Will Jeb stay in the race beyond when he should get out because of this cash lode? If he drops out and still has substantial funds remaining, does that money get spent on behalf of another candidate. It surely will not go to Trump. Will Jeb return to helping Marco despite the bad blood that has developed as a result of this campaign? Will it just be used to beat Trump no matter if it is Cruz or Rubio in the final face-off?
Iowa is a very small sample size so you can't put too much on any of the results. However, they are real votes and Iowa creates and destroys momentum.

On this one night we can summarize it this way.

Cruz is still cruising.

Rubio is resurgent.

Trump has tripped.

On to New Hampshire.

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