My predictions about the Iowa caucus were wrong! I am fallible after all. Time to eat some crow, as we say in America. Let me at it!
Nom-nom-nom. Gulp. Mmmmm… That’s good crow.
This is one of those situations in which having no sense of embarrassment comes in handy. I look forward to your brutal mocking in the comments.
On the Democratic side, Clinton won a close contest, as the polls predicted she would. High turnout probably helped Sanders a bit, as expected.
But on the Republican side, we see two big surprises. Cruz and Rubio both outperformed expectations, at a cost to Trump who barely placed second.
- Cruz 28%
- Trump 24%
- Rubio 23%.
According to the “gold standard” of Iowa polls (Ann Selzer), the order should have been this way:
- Donald Trump: 28%
- Ted Cruz: 23%
- Marco Rubio: 15%
That particular poll has been right almost every time in the past. So what went wrong?
You will see lots of explanations today for why the polls in Iowa were roughly accurate on the Democratic side and yet far off on the Republican side. For example:
- Maybe Iowans didn’t like Trump skipping the debate
- Maybe the polls were inaccurate. That happens a lot in Iowa.
- Maybe the people who wait until the last day to decide have some reason to favor Rubio.
- Maybe Cruz’ ground game and his appeal to evangelicals were stronger than people thought.
- Maybe Trump’s act is starting to wear thin.
- Maybe people can’t support Trump when all eyes are watching.
- Maybe Trump supporters believed the polls and saw no reason to turn out.
I might be missing a few reasons. But the point is that you don’t need to do any woo-woo third-dimension analysis to see lots of reasons my prediction went wrong. There are plenty of ordinary explanations.
But just for fun, let’s visit the third dimension and see how things look. And remember, the Master Persuader filter is just for entertainment.
As I was watching the final tally on the Republican side, I noticed that the result coincidentally matched what I would expect from a rigged election.
I’m not saying the election was rigged. I have no evidence of such a thing, and I’m sure the good people of Iowa are honest and competent.
But just for fun, watch me build my case for a rigged election.
If you had the power to rig the vote in Iowa – either to hurt Trump, or help Rubio – what election result would do the best job?
A Rubio first-place win would raise too many questions. Even a second-place finish would raise questions. But how about a strong third? Yes, that’s the ticket. You would engineer the vote so Rubio got the strongest possible third-place showing without overtaking Trump. And that is exactly how the vote tally went.
As a hypothetical vote-rigger, you don’t care too much about Cruz winning Iowa because he will have trouble in New Hampshire where Rubio will get another shot at surprising.
I’m not saying the vote in Iowa was rigged. I’m just saying the result is exactly the same as what one would expect from a well-engineered and rigged election. But that could be a coincidence.
Now consider motive and opportunity. Lots of people in both of the major parties want to stop Trump. And the GOP establishment is probably betting on Rubio as their best hope. Suspects are everywhere.
As for opportunity, the Iowa caucus system was designed and implemented by humans. Wherever you have humans, you have problems. Hedge funds are crooks, priests are molesting kids, and that sort of thing.
As I have said in prior blog posts, the stock market is definitely rigged. I say that with certainty simply because it is possible, the risk of detection is low, and the gains are enormous. Whenever you see that combination, crime is guaranteed.
The Iowa caucus might be an exception to the universal law of human awfulness. We can hope that is the case. But keep in mind that it would only take one player to rig the result.
Now consider that a healthy percentage of the American public believes Donald Trump is literally a Hitler-in-waiting. If an American patriot in Iowa had a chance to take down Hitler and save billions of lives, I hope he or she took the shot. That’s what I expect of my fellow-citizens.
As a thought experiment, put yourself in the shoes of an Iowan who has the opportunity to rig the Republican caucus vote. You alone might have the power to stop Trump-Hitler. If you don’t, the next Holocaust is on you.
What do you do?
As an American and a patriot, I hope you rigged the election to save us all from Hitler. If you didn’t take the shot when you had it, why not? If I were in that situation – and I believed in my heart that I could stop Hitler – I would feel obligated to do it. How could you feel otherwise?
And if I were a GOP establishment person who just wanted to keep the military-industrial machine intact, I would have that motive as well.
I’m not saying the Republican caucus in Iowa was rigged. All I’m saying is that the result looks exactly like it was rigged, and the people who had the opportunity had the best motive in the history of all motives. You might say they had the mother of all motives and a few aunts of motives as well.
As I was having these thoughts last night, some folks on Twitter mentioned that Republicans were using a new Microsoft app to tally results. Apparently that system was a bit buggy. Microsoft provided the system for free.
Oh, and Microsoft is Rubio’s biggest donor.
As for my predicting ability, remember that I “Trumped” this prediction by giving myself a way to win no matter how the vote turned out. I said that Iowa is a squirrelly process, so the Master Persuader filter would not be the best at predicting this outcome. In other words, if the rest of my predictions are right – and the only one I get wrong is squirrelly Iowa – it validates the filter as opposed to debunking it.
That’s a Trump trick. Losing is winning if you set it up right from the start.
Again, I’m not saying the Iowa caucus results were rigged on the Republican side. I don’t have proof of that, or anything close to proof. The Master Persuader filter is just for fun.
All I’m saying is that according to the Master Persuader filter, the second-best explanation for the outcome in Iowa is that the Republican caucus vote was rigged.
The first-best explanation is that Iowa is fundamentally unpredictable and I’m in cognitive dissonance. If you are a Trump supporter, you might be there with me. The funny part is that we have no way of knowing.