As the Iowa Caucus draws to a close, there are two winners: Ted Cruz, who outperformed all expectations, and Hillary Clinton, the inevitable candidate who scraped by. However, there are also two losers, and their losses are bigger than the winners’ wins. Those two losers are Donald Trump and national polls.
For both, it is a very clear loss, and an almost symbiotic one. Trump relied solely on national polls, at one point questioning why candidates would use their own polling.
Trump baffled by rival campaigns' internal polling. "The networks do it for free. What the hell are they doing polling for?"
— Jill Colvin (@colvinj) January 31, 2016
As it turns out, had Trump used internal polling, he might not be in the situation he’s in: It went from looking like a neck-and-neck race for first with Ted Cruz to a neck-and-neck race for second with Marco Rubio. Many conservatives who don’t like Rubio are questioning why the Florida senator would claim tonight is a victory, but he overperformed expectations. Just about everyone did, even Jim Gilmore, while Trump underperformed by roughly four points.
Every major polling firm gave Trump major leads going into the caucus, and put Cruz behind by an average of five points. Cruz beat Trump by almost three and a half.
The Trump Phenomenon may not be over, but tonight, both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio proved something: Donald Trump does bleed. His campaign is mortal. Can they (particularly Cruz) do what so many others have failed to do?