The long-awaited Iowa caucus is finally over, and Ted Cruz has emerged victorious from his battle with Donald Trump.
As we reported, the betting odds for Cruz haven’t changed much since his victory. Those gambling on who the Republican nominee will be only see a Cruz nomination as 1.3 percentage points more likely following the caucus.
And that’s because the Iowa caucus doesn’t mean much, despite how hyped up it is. In races where there are four or more candidates competing for the nomination, the Iowa caucus winner went on to be the nominee only 38 percent of the time.
If you need any more evidence of the meaninglessness of the Iowa caucus, just look at what happened to the last two Republicans who won it.
Via the Washington PostIn 2008, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee managed to win the Iowa caucuses, taking 34.4 percent of the vote, more than nine points ahead of his next competitor, Mitt Romney. Four years later, former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) narrowly edged Romney, earning 24.6 percent of Republican caucus-goers’ votes. The results were so close that, on election night, Romney was declared the winner with what appeared to be a surplus of eight votes. A few days later, the real outcome emerged: Santorum had won the Iowa caucuses by 34 votes.
Come 2016, that much hasn’t changed. Trump and Cruz have both made direct and targeted appeals to evangelical voters. What has changed, though, is the fact that Huckabee and Santorum (were) not on those voters’ radar screens…not first, second, third, fourth or even the fifth place in Monday’s caucuses.
Politics is certainly a business in which timing is everything. How a candidate fares is often dependent upon who they are running against and what voters are looking for at that particular time. Back in 2008 and 2012, Huckabee and Santorum clearly had what certain voters were looking for. This time around, they aren’t even making the debate stage.
Huckabee and Santorum received only 1.8% and 1% of the caucus vote respectively this time around. Quite a fall from grace.
A victory is a victory – but the race is far from over.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]