Opinion

Iowa caucus results have expiration dates

TNS

Even for someone who grew up in the land of pork chops, attended college and a caucus in Iowa, interpreting the political results of Monday is better done in the context of the entire month of February instead of just the first day.

Which is to say it’s too early to draw long-term conclusions about the win by Sen. Ted Cruz, the reality check that pricked Donald Trump’s invincible suit and the dead heat race that could bind Sec. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders in a potato-sack race for some time on the Democratic side.

After the awful showings of several GOP presidential candidates — notably one-time favorite Jeb Bush — that’s still not enough to convince Bush and the other 2- to 3-percenters that the 2016 electorate is just not that into them.

If you’re a Republican, you’d rather be Cruz, Trump or third-place finisher Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. If you’re an Idahoan it looks like two of the candidates with solid Gem State backers — Rubio and 6th-place finisher Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — left the Hawkeye state with a pulse and no reason to quit, yet.

▪ Idaho State Controller Brandon Woolf is Rubio’s man here. Though Rubio came in third behind Cruz and Trump, he put some separation between himself and the other “establishment” candidates. So, failing an actual appearance in Idaho before the March 8 GOP presidential primary here, don’t be surprised to learn that Rubio — and perhaps other Republican contenders — might drop in for a Skype visit at Ada County’s Feb. 18 Lincoln Day Dinner. Problem is that date is just two days prior to the South Carolina GOP primary and Rubio may be too busy closing the deal with the undecideds there.

▪ Much like President Barack Obama, present and former U.S. senators scored big in Iowa: Clinton (former, New York) and Sanders (I-Vermont) were in a virtual tie for the two top spots in the Democratic contest; and Sens. Cruz (Texas), Rubio, and Paul held three of the top six spots on the GOP side. Governors did terribly.

▪ Paul’s representative in Idaho is Rep. Raul Labrador. Though nobody is expecting Paul to build much beyond his 6th-place Iowa finish, the son of Ron Paul nearly doubled the showing of Bush, who finished seventh — the top underachiever left in the race. Who predicted Clinton and Bush would find themselves in such precarious spots after starting off as odds-on-favorites?

▪ Cruz supporters should not get too cocky after the Iowa win because history tells us that outside of a few Democrats (Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama), winning the Iowa event often has a short shelf life.

▪ The big winner Monday? Marco Rubio. He separated himself from the other so-called GOP “establishment” candidates, securing the attention that big, “establishment” money players demand before they commit the cash. I’m guessing Trump and Rubio — and even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — will do better than Cruz in New Hampshire a week from today.

▪ If Trump is going to begin to unravel, it’s not going to happen until after New Hampshire. That’s when the campaigns begin to head south, literally, and people get more evidence after March 1 (Super Tuesday) that polls are not predictors of accumulating delegates — which is what it is about. Here’s the post-Iowa delegate tally: Cruz, 8; Trump and Rubio, 7; Carson 3; Paul and Bush, 1.

▪ In Idaho March 8, there are 32 delegates at stake.

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