On the sizzling heels of Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) victory in Monday night’s Iowa caucuses, there has been a rush by the media to topple the candidacy of Iowa runner-up Donald Trump like some gold-plated, questionably-coiffed Saddam Hussein statue. It’s true that Trump under-performed polls, and if there’s a surprise challenge arising from Iowa, it’s Marco Rubio’s stronger-than-expected finish, but for Trumpians looking for comfort beyond Microsoft conspiracy theories, history has some hope for them.
You see, there was once another Republican candidate who had been a Democrat most of his life, who was a TV star, who had multiple marriages, who had a huge national lead going into Iowa, who skipped the last televised debate before the caucuses, who came in second in Iowa. See if any of this sounds familiar:
In fact, Ronald Reagan got 14,000 fewer votes while losing Iowa to George HW Bush than Trump did in his bid for the state Monday night. In the run-up to that defeat, Reagan’s national lead was even greater than Trump’s, 27 points over his next competitor, and 32 points over Iowa victor Bush. Coincidentally, Donald Trump leads Jeb Bush by 31 points in the national polling average.
Now, I know there will be naysayers who will point out that there were other, quite significant differences between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. Different first letter in their first names, for example, or how about their campaign slogans?
Yes, good lord, what was I thinking?