Associated Press: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, points at Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at the St. Anselm College Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Last week Iowa was the most important place in the world. Now, it goes back to being a cornfield out of which a baseball diamond was cut.
So it is with politics. Candidates descend on a state. A caucus is held, attended by a 1:1 ratio of voters and media members. Then, in the middle of the night that separates Tuesday from Wednesday, chartered planes eastbound from Des Moines, are on the wing.
Who does well in a primary or caucus fight often has less to do with vote count than it has with expectations. Witness Iowa. Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton won (though Hillary’s victory was far from a sure thing). But, we heard victory speeches from Cruz, Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio. As fight promoter Don King used to say, “Only in America.”
Rubio didn’t even finish second. When is the last time you saw the horse who returned only“show bet” winners get flowers around its neck? Meet Marco Rubio.
This week, New Hampshire is enjoying its quadrennial brush with electoral importance. Candidates from both parties fill The Granite State from its border with Maine to Manchester with bloviation and pronouncements fraught with self-importance and vigor.
So who will win in New Hampshire? And who will declare victory in New Hampshire? (“Mr. Rubio, PLEASE sit down, at least until the polls open.”)
On the Democratic side, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is a shoo-in winner. New Hampshire is Vermont without the Ben and Jerry’s factory.
But, if Hillary comes within, say 10% of Bernie she will exercise her inner Rubio and deliver a rousing victory speech. Bernie needs a big win to actually be declared the winner, no matter how many people vote for him.
Only in America.
On the Republican side, front-runner Donald Trump likes to refer to almost everyone not Donald Trump as a loser. In Iowa, Trump was a loser. Expected to take down the field, Trump found himself vanquished by evangelical darling Ted Cruz and almost waxed by Rubio. He needs a win to retain his patina of invulnerability. He needs a big win to prove his support isn’t a mile wide and an inch deep.
Ted Cruz’ campaign fits in particularly well with GOP voters in the Midwest. He needs a strong second-place showing in New Hampshire. Such a result would display strength across the regions and help the candidate get ready for South Carolina and the Super Tuesday primaries to follow.
Marco Rubio needs a showing commensurate with his confidence. He would gain that with a win in New Hampshire. If he soundly beats Cruz it would be of help to Rubio’s cause, as well.
Jeb Bush’s campaign is flagging. After polling about 5% in Iowa, “Jeb!” (that’s what his bumper stickers say) needs a Top 3-4 showing to remind his followers that he’s a Bush and has a divine right to the Oval Office.
Who will win? Probably Carolina. Oh, you want to know who will win the New Hampshire primary. We will let 3-5 of them tell you themselves Tuesday night.
Only in America.