The Los Angeles Times editorial board doesn't pull its punches in a quick-reaction editorial posted after the Iowa caucus results showed Donald Trump coming in second in the first real test of the popularity among Republicans. Texas senator Ted Cruz bested Trump, with about 28 percent to Trump's 24 percent, just one percentage point ahead of Florida senator Marco Rubio. In denying Trump the victory he had brashly predicted for himself, the LA Times opinion editors wrote, "by turning him into what he most despises, a loser — Cruz may have helped not only his party but also the country dodge a lethal bullet....A victory for the boorish and bigoted real-estate mogul would have been a seismic — and embarrassing — event."
In some respects, Cruz is just as extreme as Trump, and may even be more vulnerable in November’s general election. And far from campaigning against partisan paralysis in Washington, Cruz has championed it. But by besting Trump, he has slowed what some in the party feared was a runaway train, creating space not only for himself but also for other, less divisive candidates, notably Sen. Marco Rubio.
Trump's poor showing in his first election test happened in spite of a record turnout of Republicans, many of them taking part in the Iowa caucuses for the first time. It now looks as if many of them came out because they loathe Trump. In his concession speech, Trump said he would go on to get the Republican nomination, "and we will go on to easily beat Hillary or Bernie or whoever the hell they throw out there.” First he's going to need to win a couple dozen elections. In his first try, 75 percent of Republicans given the chance to vote for Trump voted for somebody else.
From Politico's analysis:
Even as his team expressed confidence about next week’s primary, Republican operatives and Trump allies saw what his critics had long predicted -- a campaign that was not equipped to capitalize on its candidate’s popularity and momentum. Now, they expect polls to tighten in New Hampshire and for the loss to take a psychological toll on supporters of a contender who has sold himself as the ultimate winner.
“Tonight showed that Trump is mortal and his strategy of hyping himself has the potential to backfire,” said Republican operative Ryan Williams, a former Mitt Romney aide, speaking from New Hampshire.
Multiple GOP operatives said the loss reflects a lack of sophistication and political know-how in Trump’s organization. “Tonight’s results … should have showed Team Trump that shooting from the gut all the time only gets you so far and that there is a real value to professionals who have done been through this rodeo before,” said Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, an adviser to several presidential campaigns, including Rand Paul’s this cycle.
On the Democratic side, it was not a great night for Hillary Clinton. She essentially split the delegate count with Bernie Sanders, which makes next Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire that much more of a test for Clinton. Sanders leads in the polls there and is from neighboring Vermont.
From the New York Times:
The close results were deeply unnerving to Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, as well as her advisers, some of whom had expressed growing confidence in recent days that they had recaptured political momentum after weeks when Mr. Sanders was drawing huge crowds and rising in the polls. ...
Clinton advisers said late Monday night that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were discussing bringing on additional staff members to strengthen her campaign operation now that a pitched battle may lie ahead against Mr. Sanders. The advisers said they did not know if a significant staff shakeup was at hand, but they said that the Clintons were disappointed with Monday night’s result and wanted to ensure that her organization, political messaging and communications strategy were in better shape for the contests to come.
At her caucus night party here, Mrs. Clinton sought to put the best face on a tight result that had nearly half of Democrats voting against her. “As I stand here tonight breathing a big sigh of relief — thank you, Iowa!” she said, joined on stage by Mr. Clinton and their daughter, Chelsea.
“I am excited about really getting into the debate with Senator Sanders about the best way forward to fight for us and America,” Mrs. Clinton said.