In the movie The Usual Suspects, Roger ‘Verbal’ Kent declared that “the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” At the Iowa Caucus, “the greatest trick the Devil (mainstream media, the Republican Establishment, and Donald Trump) will try to pull is convincing Ted Cruz supporters that he can’t win.”
We’re going to see variations of this message coming from every front and in multiple forms. It’s imperative that his supporters in Iowa do three things: remain diligent, spread the word now, and get as many supporters to caucus as possible. The dynamic of the Iowa caucus favors passion. No, I’m not talking about the blustery speeches by Trump or the insulting comments by his disciples. I’m talking about the passion that gets people out of their homes and offices when it’s 34 degrees and snowy or rainy outside. It’s easy to troll Facebook. It’s harder to caucus in Iowa.
If Ted Cruz supporters get fired up now and stay fired up until the last vote is counted, he won’t just win Iowa. It should be a definitive win.
They have to ignore the messaging that’s already coming out. They have to ignore the hype about polls regardless of whether they have him ahead or not. They have to assume that this is going to be a tough fight and they have to understand that every single vote is important. There’s an unknown threshold in Donald Trump’s mind. He probably doesn’t even know what that threshold is. It’s not a number, per se, but rather a feeling that will come from a humiliating defeat.
There are two scenarios in a Cruz victory in Iowa. If the margin is small, Trump will double down. He’ll hurl insults at Cruz, the election system, and most feverishly at the people of Iowa. He will call them all sorts of names. This won’t just be a dismissal of the results. He’ll use a loss as a rallying cry for the rest of America to not be as dumb, gullible, or stupid as the losers in Iowa.
In scenario two, Trump loses by a wide margin. He will still be angry, but he’ll be busier making excuses about why his polls failed him. He’ll privately start to question his decision to run. He’ll start looking for an escape route in case a path to victory doesn’t become easily apparent after New Hampshire and South Carolina. In other words, a stunning defeat that belies the inaccurate nature of modern election polling could be the start of Trump’s downfall. If you doubt that scenario, look back at his history. Whether it’s Trump Air, Trump Vodka, Trump mortgage, or any of his other failed endeavors, he wasn’t one to let it linger. He’s a winner, remember. Winners don’t take losing with grace. He’s still a billionaire even if he drops out of the election.
The message that is going to be hammered into Cruz supporters up until the Caucus is that he can’t win. Here are some of the ways that the message will manifest:
- “His colleagues would rather see Hillary Clinton as President instead of Ted Cruz.” – This one is already coming out in the form of anybody-but-Cruz rhetoric. It will come from “anonymous” Senators and Congressmen with the occasional admittance by a real person. It will then be echoed by the media and Trump himself.
- “He won’t be eligible.” – We already know this is out there and having either major effects or no effect at all, depending on the media outlet you choose to believe.
- “He’s falling in the polls.” – There will always be a poll or two that shows him losing and there will be a poll or two that shows him winning. Polls are just a general indicator when it comes to the Iowa Caucus as Rick Santorum proved in 2012.
- “Even if he wins Iowa, he’s going to get killed in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.” – It’s funny how none of them will mention what comes after Nevada. The ‘SEC Primaries’ will favor Cruz if he’s able to win Iowa. If he does well in South Carolina and Nevada, he’s pretty much locked to come out of March 1st with a strong delegate lead.
- “Governor Branstad hates Cruz.” – It’s true. With a son on staff with Big Corn and Republican Establishment puppeteers pulling his strings, of course he hates Cruz. Senator Chuck Grassley is a hairsbreadth away from endorsing Trump. Of course, Congressman Steve King, pundit Steve Deace, and several political and Evangelical leaders in Iowa have endorsed Cruz.
Knowing Trump, the biggest of these attacks will likely be the polls. They’ll paint a picture of desperation for Cruz. They’ll show that Cruz was as high as Ben Carson at one point and they’ll say Cruz is falling just like Carson did. He’s not. In fact, an article by Ben Shapiro shows that Cruz has one major polling number that is arguably more important than sheer support polls.
Nobody is more motivated than the Ted Cruz crowd. Trump’s support comes from heretofore alienated subgroups, many of whom haven’t voted before. They have no history of high voter turnout. Cruz’s support comes from the traditional base in Iowa: Evangelicals and conservatives. Cruz has support from Evangelical pastors in every single Iowa precinct. He’s done the ground work. Trump hasn’t.
Beyond that, Trump has the highest negatives of any candidate in Iowa outside of Jeb Bush – he’s at 54 percent positive and 45 percent negative. Cruz, by contrast, has the highest positives: 76 percent to 19 percent. This means that Cruz is everybody’s second pick – so as the field narrows, Cruz should gain.
If Cruz’s supporters practice discernment and diligence, he’ll pull off a stunning “upset” in Iowa that should be the first domino in a line of setbacks that puts an end to Trump’s campaign. It’s so important that one might think it prudent for supporters of other candidates to caucus for Cruz as well, if only to stop the Donald.