Or just "Trump Loses". Something that is supposed to be impossible, but also something of which I'll never get tired. Looks like there's something to be said for convention and tradition and the boring nuts and bolts of campaigning after all:
Texas Senator Ted Cruz won the Iowa Republican caucuses Monday night, beating Donald Trump in a vital victory that could shake up the primary race....
Speaking at his State headquarters in Des Moines, Cruz told cheering supporters that the night's results showed the nominee would not be chosen by the media or the Washington establishment.
“Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa and all across this great nation,” Cruz said.
While Trump finished second in the State, Florida Senator Marco Rubio finished a very close third with a stronger-than-expected showing in the Hawkeye State, helped in part by late-deciders.
With nearly all precincts reporting, Cruz had 28%, Trump had 24% and Rubio had 23%.
No wonder Cruz switched his last three days' negative advertising from Trump to Rubio. Turns out "Marcomentum" really was a thing. Another day or two and Trump would have had to settle for the bronze medal.
It's also noteworthy that Cruz won by just short of the seven thousand vote margin his campaign predicted, but with a record turnout of over 187,000, almost 53% more than four years ago, which even Cruz's data nerds were conceding would mean a Trump blowout. Which means that Trump underperformed - and/or Cruz and Rubio overperformed - by even more than the percentages indicate:
FINAL RCP POLL AVERAGE: Trump 29%, Cruz 24%, Rubio 17%
ACTUAL RESULTS: Cruz 28%, Trump 24%, Rubio 23%
So, realistically, it's down to a three-man race. It should also literally be down to a three-man race, since nobody else got out of single digits, but the handwriting on this cycle's wall is seemingly scrawled in invisible ink.
Just for the heck of it, looking at the also-rans and allocating their votes among the Big Three, I get the following Iowa results:
Cruz 37%, Rubio 32%, Trump 31%.
New Hampshire is an entirely different entity, of course. Applying the equivalent allocation there, with proportionate adjustments, yields the following projections:
Trump 28%, Cruz 16%, Rubio 16%.
In a three-man race: Rubio 48%, Trump 32,%, Cruz 19%.
It illustrates rather clearly that the longer the losers linger, the better it is for Trump by keeping what might be most accurately described as the Republican vote fragmented.
FWIW - and there is a certain relish to reporting this - Huck has quit, and the door hit him in his fat ass on the way out.
UPDATE: Victory speeches of the winners added below.
Belated exit quote from the delighted Eeyore: "A sweet win in so many ways, not just because conservatism trumped populism — for the next week, at least — but because so many of Cruz’s enemies during this campaign deserved the bitterness of losing tonight. Trump and his “Canada Ted” wisecracks are the tip of the iceberg. How about Terry Branstad, Iowa’s crony governor, trying to sink Cruz for standing up against ethanol subsidies? (And how about Cruz winning big in Iowa on that platform?) How about Mike Huckabee doing everything he could, patently out of spite, to sink Cruz as a phony Christian among evangelicals, and coming up short? A nonfactor from the start, he dropped out of the race this evening an hour or two before Cruz celebrated.....And how about Sarah Palin spending what little credibility she had left as a conservative populist on Trump because Ted Cruz, establishment nemesis, was allegedly “more of the same”? All of these losers went all in for Trump in Iowa hoping that they could knock Cruz out and clear the populist lane for the phony conservative who’d be better for their respective business interests than Cruz would. Cruz beat them all. Raise a glass."