I’m always frustrated trying to figure out how the candidates are doing in organizing states. Reporters for the most part have very little understanding of how campaigns organize themselves and thus don’t report on it. Not to mention that might take work.
But the hints in the Republican primary point to Ted Cruz putting together a strong organization that can lead him to a victory or near victory, but vaulting him into the top tier.
You could feel it in Iowa last weekend. Starting with that Feast of Fat Things on Friday night, the fortunes of Tailgunner Ted Cruz began to achieve breakaway velocity. The Libidinous Visitor wasn’t even in the state. Neither was Jeb (!). And among the candidates who did stop by, Cruz clearly was the one most closely tuned into the frequencies that only Iowa Republican caucus-goers can hear. In addition, he has slowly and steadily built the kind of field operation in the state that can deliver for him in the middle of a blizzard come the first weekend of February. Somehow, lost in the blare of the Trump, and amid the blinding brilliance of Dr. Ben (The Blade) Carson on just about every subject known to man, Cruz has run a smart, stealthy campaign, shrewdly calculating that, sooner or later, the two mock frontrunners will come back to the pack and positioning himself as the obvious choice for any of their voters who choose to go over the side. Cruz has money and organization and, unlike many of his rivals, he seems to be capable of a kind of strategic patience.
Trump doesn’t seem to have much of an organization, but has mastered free media enough that I wouldn’t discount him entirely. It’s possible he could pull off a win though I wouldn’t doubt if he loses Iowa and wins New Hampshire. Carson though–well grifters trying to sell books usually aren’t real good on organization building.
All that said, traditionally political science predicts the party determines the winner meaning party elites usually control the process and neither Trump nor Cruz have significant party support. In fact, the establishment is blubbering incoherently about Trump and hates Cruz. If there is a year for the traditional model to fail, it’s this year. Or maybe Rubio pulls it out. Notably the most establishment support is to Bush who appears to be doing everything possible to spoil that advantage.
Nate Silver is convinced Trump is fleeting, but I think he’s being a bit too flippant. No one has ever run with Trump’s ability to generate free media, Trump is not tethered to donors, and the Republican party has been having a several years long revolt at the grass roots level. All of that doesn’t guarantee a Trump win by any means, but we have seen it happen time and time again in primaries at a lower level. We shouldn’t dismiss Trump at this point. Nor Cruz who has very limited establishment support.
Carson, dismiss away.