Most important and awesome takeaway from last night? The enormous number of voters who turned out to vote against Trump, as John Podhoretz notes here:
Cruz won with the most votes any Republican has ever gotten in an Iowa caucus, through old-fashioned means — and because he appealed to voters for the old-fashioned reasons politicians appeal to voters. Cruz built a sensationally effective ground organization, at least twice as large as any other candidate’s. He had 12,000 volunteers (a fourth of his vote total) ringing doorbells, making phone calls, and gathering people to show up and caucus. He worked for and secured important endorsements. More importantly, he ran a campaign affirming classic conservative ideas of particular resonance to the voters of Iowa. They did not fall for Donald Trump’s vainglorious and solipsistic blather about making America great again without ever explaining how on earth he would do such a thing. In fact, 75 percent of the Republicans of Iowa rejected Trump’s nonsense.
And even more than that. The record vote turnout in Iowa — 180,000 strong — completely disproved the conventional wisdom that a newer and larger electorate would favor Trump. If anything, the evidence suggests that voters were inspired to turn out for Cruz and for the surprisingly strong third-place finisher, Marco Rubio (who beat the poll averages by nearly seven points), not only to cast a positive vote for the candidate they preferred but specifically to deny Trump a win.
This is a dynamic that should be closely watched from here on out. The polls showing Trump leading everywhere have been registering the results of his astounding command of the media — but have always been blurred somewhat by his undeniably high negatives. Perhaps, in the Iowa results, we saw the first real effects of Trump’s unpopularity with Republicans — that he may be generating actual negative turnout of the sort pollsters find difficult to measure. People may not have crawled through glass to vote for him. They may have crawled through glass to tell Trump to take a well-deserved hike.
Oh, and one last thing. In Iowa, among an all-white Republican electorate, 60 percent of the vote last night was cast for two Cubans and an African-American.
Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, “half of Democrats voted for a once-obscure elderly socialist senator from Vermont who bases his campaign on conspiracy theories and juvenile zero-sum economic theories that were all the rage in the early 1900s. (And the other half went to a candidate that sounds increasingly like him.)” That quote is from this David Harsanyi piece:
The key difference between the two party’s situations is that intellectual Right is in a fight to save conservatism from what they see as a distortion undermining its historical purpose. (And they may yet lose that battle.) There is no real battle or uproar among Democrats over the radicalization of the Left, probably because Sanders’ positions are an organic result of the rhetoric, obsession over inequality, and its redistributive economic policy.