|The Colossus of Rhodes
He doth bestride the narrow worldLike a colossus, and we petty menWalk under his huge legs
— Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
Lest there was any lingering doubt, the Iowa caucuses confirmed Trump’s dominance in the GOP. He crushed his opposition and is now described as basking in the momentum of his landslide. He bestrides a supine Republican Party like a colossus and petty men beg his favor.
But that’s only part of the story, and perhaps not the most important one. Iowa also revealed just how weak Trump may be in the general election. The Bulwark’s Joe Perticone takes a closer look at the numbers:
[Monday’s] caucuses saw just over 110,000 Republicans turn out to vote. In 2016, that number was nearly 187,000, around 70 percent higher. Some voters stayed home because of the cold snap, of course—it was 30 degrees below freezing in Iowa last night—notwithstanding Trump’s invitation to them to take their lives into their own hands.
But registering only around three votes for every five votes cast the last time there was an “open” primary suggests there could be a real enthusiasm problem among GOP voters. And in addition to this year’s low turnout, consider the fact that Trump, a quasi-incumbent with greater name recognition than anyone alive, earned the votes of just over half of the state’s caucusgoers—the most committed members of Iowa’s GOP.
Let’s break it down even further:
Only about 14-15% of GOP voters showed up; which means that Trump’s landslide total comprised about 8 percent of Iowa Republicans.
A substantial number of Republican voters are signaling that they are Never Trump. NBC reports that nearly half of Haley’s Iowa backers say they’d vote for Biden over Trump. As Mona Charen noted yesterday the pre-caucus poll by the Des Moine Register found that fully 25 percent of Iowa Republican caucus-goers say they won’t vote for Trump in November.
That’s reflected in some of the on-the-ground reporting from the Dispatch:
[It] was remarkable how many Iowa voters backing Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley told The Dispatch some version of the same thing Monday evening after Donald Trump’s commanding caucus victory: If he’s the nominee, count them out….
“I can’t believe that out of 340 million Americans, those are the two best options that we can come up with,” a Haley supporter named Greg told us from an elementary school caucus site in suburban Waukee. “But yes, I cannot see myself voting for Trump under any circumstances. He’s an insurrectionist and a criminal, and I will not support him.”