And not just because the Democrat process was–and continues to be at the time of this writing–a train wreck. Just like grocery shoppers take their frustrations out on hapless cashiers when the store’s payment processing system goes down, so will the Iowa Democrat party’s logistical incompetence reflect poorly on the presidential candidates of that party.
Caucusing takes time and energy. There was little reason for Trump-supporting Iowa Republicans to expend that time and energy for a rubber stamp. Committed NeverTrump GOPers, on the other hand, had a big incentive to get their people out and lodge a non-negligible vote of no confidence in the president. So how’d the NeverTrumpers do?
Abysmally. The president took over 97% of said vote.
Another reason Trump won last night comes in the form of underwhelming Democrat turnout, which was only on par with 2016 and well below 2008.
That’s a bad sign for Democrats. While Sanders made 2016 a contest, Hillary Clinton was widely assumed to be the winner from the get-go, and that outcome would never be seriously in doubt. To give up several hours of a weekday evening for a foregone conclusion is asking a lot of people. This time around, there is nothing like a consensus about who the Democrat nominee is going to be. If you care, you’ll be there. The stakes were higher last night than in 2016.
Additionally, the importance of this GOP caucus declined enormously from 2016. In 2016, the outcome of the GOP nomination was less certain than the outcome of the Democrat nomination. In 2020, the opposite was the case. So some leaners and independents who may have registered beforehand as Republicans in 2016 should have switched over to Democrat for 2020 to participate in another meaningful caucus (in Iowa, caucus goers are allowed to switch party registration the day of the vote). Despite that, Democrat turnout didn’t budge.
Republican prospects for the 2020 presidential election hit an all-time high in the prediction markets last night:
And on top of all that, the thrust of the reporting from inside the chaotic caucus locations last night was that Buttigieg–which polling consistently suggest will be Trump’s best matchup–outperformed expectations more than anyone else did.