GOP Exits: Spoiler Alert–Trump Didn’t Convince Conservatives

Matt Vespa
|
Posted: Feb 02, 2016 7:45 PM
GOP Exits: Spoiler Alert–Trump Didn’t Convince Conservatives

DES MOINES, Iowa­–The Iowa Caucuses are over. It was a solid three-man race between Rubio, Cruz, and Trump, but Cruz dominated key groups that enabled him to clinch victory. Nevertheless, all three candidates had some bastion of support.

For Cruz, he won the men (29/25/25) and women’s vote (27/24/21) last night over Trump and Rubio respectively. For age groups, Cruz dominated all:

  • 17-29 year olds: 27/19(Trump)/24 (Rubio)
  • 30-44 year olds: 31/22/22
  • 45-65 year olds: 28/25/24 – represented 46 percent of voters
  • 65 and over: 27/26/22

He also took the Eastern cities, central, and east central parts of Iowa, Rubio took the Des Moines area, and Trump took the Western part of the state. Concerning political philosophy, Cruz won very conservative voters (40 percent of voters) over Trump and Rubio handily 44/21/15. But Rubio took somewhat conservative Iowans–45 percent of voters–29/19/24 over Cruz and Trump. If Trump was banking of God, it didn’t yield dividends. Cruz took the evangelical vote 33/21/21 over Trump and Rubio.

One of the interesting aspects of this poll is the very conservative and conservative blocks breaking for Cruz and Rubio. One could make a judgment that this sets up what some have been calling for when 2016 really gets going: a Cruz/Rubio fight for the nomination. Between the two groups, they represented 85 percent of Republican Iowan caucus-goers. Break those two groups to their corners and tack on other areas that will be issues in the 2016 general, government spending, terrorism, and jobs/economy, it looks like a broad area of support for both Cruz and Rubio to build formidable coalitions.

On the top issues, Cruz bested Rubio on terrorism (33/26) and government spending (27/21), but Rubio took the electability argument (44/22) and jobs and the economy (30/18).

For Trump, there are some areas where he did perform well. He leads Cruz and Rubio handily with the “telling it like it is” quality in a candidate 66/11 (Cruz)/4 (Rubio) and having the “ability to bring change” (33/25/17). While immigration has become a staple of his campaign, and an issue where he won on Caucus night, it wasn’t enough to bring him over the top.

Trump’s lead in the latest slate of polls, coupled with his second place finish, could suggest that the billionaire magnate had little to no ground game. Someone who is familiar with elections told Townhall last night, Trump wasn’t even listed in the top five on the Google searches for how to caucus in Iowa. Given Cruz’s victory was derived from his grassroots army, the same force he mustered during his 2012 Texas senate race, it shows how the fundamentals of campaigning still matter. These are the non-luxurious, but still tremendous, tasks of knocking on doors, making phone calls, setting up yard signs, having poll watchers on Election Day, and finding volunteers to help you out with all of the above, is still critical to winning elections.

Trump was mostly a glitzy show, with big events and no retail politics, which is what Rubio, is very good at on the campaign trail–and it failed. Cruz and Rubio crisscrossed the state via bus tours, with the Texas senator stopping five to six times a day, whereas Marco had anywhere from one to three stops a day. For the most part, Trump would fly into Iowa, say his piece, and fly back home to New York in order to sleep in his own bed.

Nothing is guaranteed on Election Day, which we saw when Rubio broke 20 percent for a strong third-place finish last night. The data, while off (again), suggested otherwise prior to Caucus day. Oh, and speaking of data, this may be one area where Trump could beef up (via Politico):

Most of his rivals’ campaigns … spent heavily to build teams of staffers and consultants who could enhance and manipulate the data to power their voter outreach and mobilization efforts. Cruz’s campaign, for instance, in the last three months of 2015 racked up $3.6 million in bills from a data firm called Cambridge Analytica that builds what it calls “psychographic” profiles of voters to try to win them over with narrowly targeted micro-messages. Sources say the firm, which is owned by one of Cruz’s biggest donors, has embedded multiple staffers within the campaign to work with a substantial in-house data operation.

A source said the Trump campaign balked at the price tag associated with Cambridge Analytica’s services.

Instead, Trump’s data shop is headed by a pair of low-profile former RNC data engineers, Matt Braynard and Witold Chrabaszcz, who are regarded as technically savvy but who do not have previous high-level campaign experience. And, while Trump’s team late last year entered into an agreement with the political data outfit L2, the campaign has only paid the firm $235,000 for “research consulting” through the end of 2015, the period covered by the most recent Federal Election Commission reports.

Trump’s reports show that his self-funded campaign has spent relatively little on voter data or outreach. They showed $200,000 in list rental payments to the conservative Newsmax Media, and $47,000 to Targeted Victory, a leading GOP digital firm, as well as $700,000 on field staff and consultants.

By contrast, the campaign has spent at least $1.2 million on hats ? presumably mostly for the now-iconic hats bearing Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

There are some aspects of campaigning that are necessary, but don’t necessarily win elections. Yard signs are good for supporters, it doesn’t mean the more you see, the better chances of that person winning when the ballots are cast. The same logic could be applied to funny hats.

Last Note: Please read Guy's analysis from last night as well.

John McCain Wins Primary