It’s likely that no candidate will win so much as 30 percent of the votes cast in Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses. Yet you can bet that the press corps will crown as the big winner the candidate who gets perhaps one-quarter of the votes of caucus-goers in a state that’s half the size of the average state. Meanwhile, those who get one-sixth, or one-seventh, or one-eighth, of that same vote, will be labeled as losers who might want to think about dropping out of the national race. This, of course, is foolishness.
The real story coming out of Iowa will be that no candidate managed to convince a third, or possibly even a quarter, of Iowa Republican caucus-goers that he or she is the right person for the essential job of beating President Obama and repealing Obamacare. In the past 30 years, Bob Dole (in 1996) is the only Republican to win in Iowa without managing to secure even one-third of the vote. A winner who follows in Dole’s footsteps — especially if that candidate fails to match even Dole’s tally of 26 percent support — will hardly inspire great confidence going forward.
Whatever the exact results in the Hawkeye State, and whatever the press corps may say about it, roughly 70 percent of the votes, if not more, will be cast against the “winner.” Moreover, five candidates could well receive double-digit support. That’s something that has never before happened in the Iowa caucuses — for either party.
Suffice it to say that by Tuesday night, the GOP race will barely have gotten underway. No one will emerge from Iowa with anything approaching the clear support of the Republican electorate.