On the Surface
Ted Cruz’s win at the Iowa Caucuses last week came as a surprise to many. He’s been accused of (and admitted to) spreading the rumor that Ben Carson dropped from the race, and encouraging Carson’s voters to caucus for him, instead. But Cruz’s win wasn’t dependent on such gambits. He’d always worked toward the bigger picture: getting votes from the Republican base.
Toppling Trump and Winning the Base
Polls leading up to the Caucuses consistently showed Donald Trump with a lead over Sen. Cruz, leading many to speculate that America’s presidential campaigning was undergoing a transformation: one where spectacle ruled supreme. Cruz dispelled that notion.
Relying on the tried-and-true “get out the vote” strategy, Cruz focused his efforts on recruitment: he enlisted 5,000 volunteers and hundreds of state leaders, spending millions on data analytics. These efforts didn’t seem like much compared to the fervent energy that seemed to surround Trump’s campaign, but they represented a more calculated approach. They were all to target the most reliable caucus-goers: older, evangelical conservatives.
The strategy paid off: ultimately, Cruz won 27.7 percent of the vote, while Trump took 24.3 percent. But Iowa is only one state, and it’s never been a consistent predictor of the Republican nominee (Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, who both recently dropped out of the race, won the Caucus in 2008 and 2012, respectively). To be certain, Cruz still has a long journey to the nomination.