Republican Donald Trump’s surprise defeat in Iowa at the hands of US Senator Ted Cruz reflected shortcomings in his get-out-the-vote operations and an over reliance on his celebrity status in a state
Republican Donald Trump’s surprise defeat in Iowa at the hands of US Senator Ted Cruz reflected shortcomings in his get-out-the-vote operations and an over reliance on his celebrity status in a state where voters prefer the personal touch.
The New York billionaire and former TV reality star generated much enthusiasm for his anti-establishment message, but in the end he was out muscled by Mr Cruz’s more traditional ground game and saw some late-deciding voters side with US Senator Marco Rubio.
All signs had pointed to a Trump victory in the first nominating contest in the race for the White House, with the Des Moines Register’s influential poll giving Mr Trump the lead on the weekend before Iowans went to caucus on Monday.
The loss, while not by a large margin, raised questions about Mr Trump’s ability to perform as well in voting contests as he does in polls. Prior to Monday, Mr Trump had repeatedly boasted that he would easily win Iowa, and he has been the frontrunner in most national polls since the summer of 2015.
Sensing victory, Mr Trump had mocked Mr Cruz’s ground game in the hours before voters went to their caucus sites.
“I hear they all have these great ground games, they’ve got people pouring in on buses and trucks,” Mr Trump said at a campaign rally. “They are spending all the money they have from special interests. For our country, I want the person who is going to spend the least amount and get the best results.”
Mr Trump had relied on what Iowa Republican Party chairperson Jeff Kaufmann said was a “stealth” ground effort. For some though, the specifics of Mr Trump’s plan for turning out his supporters on Monday were questionable.