The late great Dale Earnhardt was once told his second place finish in a race was impressive. Earnhardt responded by saying, "Coming in second just means you're the first loser." Ever since Donald Trump got into the GOP race and shot to the top of the polls, all he has done is use those polls as a measuring stick for victory. Any poll not showing him with a lead was dismissed out of hand and any poll, no matter what outfit it come from or how it was conducted was a "very respected" poll as long as Trump led.
The only poll that counts is the one on election day and in that respect, Donald Trump is a loser.
To that end, here are some other observations about the Iowa caucuses:
Trump under performed, big time - There was talk of record turnout and there was talk of the bulk of that turnout going to Trump. Alas, EventBrite didn't turn out to be the great data tool people thought it would be. People are saying Trump "only" under performed in polls by "4 points." But the Real Clear Politics average helped him because of a late poll entry showing him with only 20 percent. All the talk for Trump was more than just him winning, but by how much. Instead....he got schlonged.
Rubio's showing was very strong - People can downplay it all they want (like Mika and Scarborough tried today on Morning Joe) but Rubio came very close to knocking Trump from second. He outperformed the polls by 6-7 points and left all of the other so-called establishment candidates (Jeb, Kasich, Christie) in the dust. The question is whether or not he can carry it over to New Hampshire. There is no reason to see why he cannot. In addition, Rubio just picked up the endorsement of South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
Ted Cruz has one hell of an organization - His win was impressive. To beat back Trump and Rubio the way he did required a sophisticated GOTV operation and a great team to execute it and it showed. Cruz has a lot of money and has similar organizational prowess in other states. The question is, can he continue to do this as the field contracts? Time will tell.
Traditional conservatism beat back populism - Combine Cruz and Rubio's numbers and they received over 50% of the vote. Trump's brand of populism sans conservatism didn't get him the win he so badly wanted. It still may benefit him in New Hampshire but watch the polls in more traditionally conservative states over the next two weeks and see what happens. I suspect we will start to see Trump's lead shrink, and fast. People are now paying attention.
The pundits all look like idiots - Especially the ones who were all about Trump. It became somewhat nauseating to watch. From Joe Scarborough to Matthew Dowd and Eric Bolling, the punditry was in love with Trump. They wanted him to win so they could look great talking about how screwed up the GOP is. Fear not! If Trump wins New Hampshire, and there is no reason to believe he cannot, they'll be back out there, as insufferable as ever.
Hillary Clinton pretty much lost to a 74 year old socialist - Hillary claimed victory last night but she barely - I mean, barely - won a race she was winning by nearly 30 points just a few months ago. She is going to get crushed in New Hampshire. She is a very very weak candidate. And the GOP has to be happy with what they saw last night.
There you have it. Agree? Disagree?