Third Party & Independents Archives

Trump Needs to Get His Supporters to Put Their Winter Boots on.

With apps courtesy of Microsoft running smoothly (unlike ORCA) and polling numbers parsing caucus voters practically down to hair color and favorite sports teams, it’s easy to get caught up in the tech-heavy post-game analysis of the surprising results in Iowa. Especially how wrong the polls were about both Trump and Rubio (who gained 8% more votes than the Des Moines Register poll predicted - exactly as Nate Sliver suggested could happen).

In all the questioning of Trump and how he lacked a ground game, less attention seems to be being paid to the independence of the Iowa caucus goer. You can divide and classify and group voters until your servers crash, but the key point in Iowa was that voters were ready to be convinced. To be persuaded by their fellow citizens and by a candidates representative in intimate, almost informal surroundings.

In other words, Ted Cruz ran a well-marshaled campaign that seems to have borrowed as much from George W. Bush and especially Carl Rove back in 2000, as from Santorum and Huckabee's previous efforts. But that was clearly laid out some time ago and executed according to plan.

Rubio, on the other hand, managed to both tamp down media speculation, and reach out furiously to undecideds and convince many of them at the latter stages - sometimes right in the caucus - to go his way. But that strategy which is now being applauded - cautiously - by many, worked because Iowa voters don't fit neatly into polling categories. Like voters everywhere don't fit neatly. They consider the evidence, the speeches, the policy positions and their own interests, and what works best for the nation as a whole, and then finally make a considered decision.

While making it run smoothly is undoubtedly a formidable challenge, in the end the vaunted ground game is about having your people in the room to do the final pitch before the vote. Trump did not even have someone in every room. And George W. Bush - if Carl Rove isn't exaggerating a little - had someone for every 10 supporters. It's literally winter boots on the ground and a good communications network to pull it together.

Iowa voters want to be persuaded in person. What a wonderful idea in the 21st century. Cruz got it. Rubio got it. Bernie Sanders got it. Hillary no doubt claims she got it.

So can Trump pull together a ground game in time? Because it will take some doing - a veritable D-Day in New Hampshire and South Carolina is what is involved - given the calendar. His speech was gracious. His tweets afterwards less so, but hardly growling. He needs to stop tweeting and start telling his supporters to put their boots on. Pronto.

Posted by AllardK at February 3, 2016 7:13 AM
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