It wasn’t quite like 2008 when the world witnessed a U.S. Senator from Illinois take his first formal step to become America’s first Black president. But, the 2016 Iowa caucuses were still historic; on the GOP side, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the most hated man in Congress handily beat the world’s most ubiquitous a–hole, Donald J. Trump.
On the other side, it was the closest Democratic caucus in history; former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed a razor thin victory, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is casting doubt on the results and declaring the contest a dead heat.
Cruz actually captured more votes (51,649) than any Republican in the history of the Iowa caucuses and Trump’s aura of invincibility was definitely dinged up as a result. The billionaire’s strategy of, “I know you are, but what am I,” fell decidedly flat as he barely escaped a third place finish ahead of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
In the last couple of weeks, virtually every poll had Trump ahead of Cruz by as much as five percentage points. Political pundits (particularly the motley crew at MSNBC’s, “Morning Joe”) openly gushed about Trump’s massive rallies, at how he was growing by leaps and bounds as a candidate right before their very eyes. They seemed to marvel at how Trump seemed impervious to the perils that would bury most “normal” candidates.
And Trump clearly believed his own hype. He arrogantly gloated during one of his rallies that he, “could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” He skipped the last GOP debate in Iowa, because he thought Fox commentator Megyn Kelly (who was one of the moderators) would be too mean to him. And he unleashed the mercurial lunacy of Sarah Palin when he publicly thanked her for her endorsement during a rally.
Now the GOP battle moves to New Hampshire, minus two, after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and current Kentucky Senator Rand Paul finally got out of the race.
In Iowa, the race seemed to be Clinton’s to lose and she almost did. Emerging from the Hawkeye State, Sanders seems to be the winner of the momentum race with a virtual tie against the overwhelming favorite to capture the Democratic nomination (where have I heard that phrase before?). If you believe the polls, Sanders has a 30 plus point lead over Clinton in New Hampshire, which should be insurmountable.
After New Hampshire, you have to look forward to South Carolina (where the Black vote gives Clinton a distinct advantage, for now) and Nevada (where Sanders organizers have crafted a formidable campaign infrastructure). This could very well be a fight between Clinton and Sanders all the way to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
And the two way race for the Democratic nomination has officially become just that, now former Maryland governor and former Baltimore mayor Martin O’Malley, finally, mercifully quit. I believe O’Malley spent more time in Iowa over the last two years than both Sanders and Clinton and I never saw a poll where he broke double digits. In the end, Iowans had, “zero tolerance,” for O’Malley, who suffered perhaps a historic rejection in a three way race, scoring a microscopic 0.6 percent.
A few predictions going forward. If former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie doesn’t break double digits in New Hampshire he’s probably done. Same thing goes for former Hopkins neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. Former HewlettPackard executive Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s days are numbered as well, look for them to make an exit after the New Hampshire Primary.
And finally, the sharks are probably circling the candidacy of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the man who probably has spent more money than all the GOP candidates combined. But, despite how woefully Bush finishes in the Granite State, look for him to make one final stand in South Carolina.
Sean Yoes is a senior contributor for the AFRO and host and executive producer of First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m. on WEAA 88.9.