Monday is the big day as the Iowa voters finally will caucus and get the GOP presidential nomination show on the road.
This is a helpful guide as to how the caucus actually works. It is not a primary and is somewhat byzantine in how delegates are eventually chosen. One thing that it is not is a winner-take-all caucus. Delegates are chosen based on the percentage of votes any given candidate receives. Thus More than likely the top three finishers will walk away with delegates and possibly power at a possibly brokered GOP convention in Cleveland later this year.
One bit of digression that is important to note is that most states in the past were winner-take-all primaries and or caucuses. Not this time. A full 84% of the delegates will be chosen by a form of proportional representation. Only 16% will be from winner-take-all primaries and or caucuses. Thus it is possible that fewer candidates will simply drop out as in the past. It is possible that it could be a three-way race all the way to Cleveland and no one candidate will have the 1,237 delegates needed for a first-ballot victory. It is possible no one will be close enough in the end.
So back to Iowa.
According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, yes Donald J. Trump still leads all candidates with 31% of the vote. Texas senator Ted Cruz is a strong second with 25% and Florida senator Marco Rubio is a surging third place with about 14%. The rest of those still standing are in the single digits.
But history shows, and this year is no exception, that as much as 40% of the people who will actually caucus can change their minds right up to caucus night.
What does that mean?
Well, it possibly hurts the Donald more than anyone. Since he decided to skip the last debate this past Thursday and host a hastily-staged support for veteran-themed event, the potential caucus goers do not like that disrespect. It was something that Ronald Reagan regretted when he skipped the last Iowa debate in 1980. Mr. Reagan lost and it lead to the eventual sacking of his campaign manager, John Sears. That is something when people point that out to defend the Donald and his decision to bail because he could not take Fox News channel's Megan Kelly and her possible pointed questions that he might actually have to answer.
Not having the Donald on the debate stage helped all of the candidates. But probably helped Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida governor Jeb! Bush more than the others.
There is a school of thought that a serious caucus attender will have heard all of the candidates at least once in person during this Death March of a campaign season. They make up their mind and then get to the caucus site and hear all those from the different campaigns and some just change their mind right there on the spot. While 40% seems to be a high number, it is the way that a caucus works. Yeah, it is a little messy but truly democracy in action.
What do I think will happen on Monday night?
It will be a nail-biter but I think that Sen. Cruz will finish first. Then it is the battle for the scraps and that will be between the Donald and Sen. Rubio. My guess is that Sen. Rubio could easily surge to second place based on the past. But more than likely the Donald will finish second and Sen. Rubio a very strong third. The rest? Well, it won't matter except for Jeb! and his millions that he can stay in hoping that there will be a dreaded brokered convention.
Then it is on to New Hampshire only a week later.
The 2016 presidential Death March campaign is finally going to the caucus goers and the voters and not a moment too soon.