The Ohio State University at Newark


Ohio State Newark Associate Professor Analyzes Iowa Caucuses on Columbus TV

NEWARK, Ohio, February 2, 2016 - The Ohio State University at Newark Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Nathaniel Swigger appeared on Fox 28’s Good Day Columbus television news program this morning (Tuesday) to analyze the results from Monday’s Iowa caucuses. He says we can’t make sweeping conclusions about the presidential race based on those results.

“ABC News estimated that something like 180,000 voters participated on the Republican side, which would be a record,” says Swigger. “To put that in perspective, a single Congressional district contains about 700,000 people. What I’m saying is that the Iowa caucuses have very low turnout in a very small state.”

On the Republican side, Ted Cruz was the winner beating Donald Trump. Marco Rubio finished third.

“Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio turned in better than expected results while Donald Trump actually came in under his polling averages. This is great news for Cruz, who needed this win in order to demonstrate viability. Given the dominance of evangelical Christian conservatives in the Iowa caucuses, this is likely to be the friendliest terrain Cruz sees throughout the entire nomination process,” says Swigger. “If he can turn in a respectable performance in New Hampshire and then win South Carolina in two weeks, he might craft a plausible path to the nomination. If Rubio can at least come in a strong second in New Hampshire next week he will position himself, finally, as a strong candidate and the best ‘mainstream’ Republican in the race. Perhaps Rubio can position himself as a conservative who can still win with voters. His argument could be that he has broader appeal than Cruz, and he is more acceptable to most voters than Trump.”

What do the results mean for the Trump candidacy? Swigger believes New Hampshire is crucial to Trump’s campaign.

“In Iowa, where the caucus system can make voting intimidating and difficult, Trump underperformed,” says Swigger. “Will this mean that Trump’s strength in the polls will not translate into actual votes? Will a second-place finish burst his bubble of invincibility? If he can come back and win New Hampshire next week, then Trump can probably shrug off Iowa as an odd outlier. The last two Republican nominees have done exactly that. However, it is unlikely that his campaign could survive two disappointing losses in a row, particularly since his whole argument for his candidacy has been built on being a ‘winner.’ If Trump wins in New Hampshire by a decisive margin, this is truly a three-man race between Cruz, Trump and Rubio.”

On the Democratic side, it was a tight race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in Iowa. Many are calling the results a virtual tie.

“Hillary Clinton is going to be fine,” says Swigger. “It might seem weird to suggest that the heavy favorite did well in pulling out a close victory, but Iowa is one of the states where the terrain is most favorable to Bernie Sanders. The fact that Clinton could win here shows that her campaign has learned the lessons of 2008. She is much better organized, and her supporters are more energized, this time around. Sanders will probably win New Hampshire. However, if he really wanted to challenge for the nomination, he needed to pick up every possible delegate in places like Iowa. There is just no evidence that Sanders has been able to expand his appeal beyond extreme liberals and young people.”

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