Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Iowa in perspective

Excellent piece in the New York Times from Nate Cohn on the Iowa caucuses.  He pushes down into the figures and comes up with some shrewd analysis.  As someone concerned by the Cruz strength, I was particularly interested in this gutting of the Republican front-runner's figures:

But his path to the nomination is still not an easy one. He will face full-throated opposition from many prominent Republicans, as was the case here in Iowa. And Mr. Cruz’s narrow victory was not especially impressive. It depended almost exclusively on strength among “very conservative” voters, who are vastly overrepresented in the Iowa caucuses. There was no primary state where “very conservative” voters represented a larger share of the electorate in 2012 than they did in Iowa. He won just 19 percent among “somewhat conservative” voters and a mere 9 percent of the “moderate” vote.


Like many commentators today, Cohn considers Rubio to be the real winner in the Republican stakes; a last-minute headwind of support put him within biting distance of Trump and could build up to make him the establishment candidate to take on - and beat - Cruz.

The Washington Post, of course, also has excellent coverage (as does Slate) with this piece by Chris Cillizza offering a quick tally of losers and winners.  He sees Hillary breathing a sigh of relief in avoiding a major loss; she may have won or she may have tied or she may even have lost very marginally - but it was a win in that she has kept up her momentum and continues to look like a much better and stronger campaigner than in 2008.

The American papers obviously offer more informed commentary than much of the British media, although the BBC's Jon Sopel and  the Times' Tim Montgomerie are prescient observers, as is Today's James Naughtie whose enthusiasm for the process combines with his customary insight to make thoroughly worthwhile listening (scroll to around 35:10 here for example).  I was disappointed with the Spectator Coffee House's simplistic and uninformative piece, especially given their excellence in the field of British politics, but you can't have everything.


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