And the Winner is….the People

“​The genesis of a new movement in America is emerging.”

​Last night the Iowa caucuses signaled the official beginning of the 2016 Presidential election cycle. The declared winners were Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ted Cruz. But the real winners were the people of Iowa. In fulfilling their citizen responsibility to participate in democracy, they have set the example for the nation.

The turnout in the Republican caucuses was over 182,000 people. That is 60,000 more participants than the previous record. Now let’s put that into a percent increase perspective. In recent history, in open elections and in highly contested presidential contests, the top turnout had been 121,000+ people. The addition of 60,000+ people is a 50% increase in turnout. This is unprecedented at any level of political activity, in any state, for any election. And what is most interesting about this number is that over 40,000 people attended the caucuses on their own volition to make their voices heard. They did not come through the organization of any campaign or special interest group. They came because they care about their country’s future. They took their role in democracy very seriously.

The post-election analysis by the pundits can be summarized in the following. Ted Cruz met expectations. Marco Rubio exceeded expectations. And Donald Trump failed expectations. Hillary Rodham Clinton survived expectations. And Bernie Sanders established new expectations. In fairness to Donald Trump, he received 46,000+ votes, which is more than any Republican candidate in caucus history, except for Ted Cruz who received more than 51,000. The increased turnout is partly due to Cruz’s excellent ground game, partly to Trump bringing new voters to the meetings, and partly to interested citizens attending on their own initiative. Among all first-time caucus attendees not attached to a candidate, Rubio received a plurality. The electorate was excited to exercise their authority. They are looking for change. Many first-timers decided that Rubio was the most electable candidate for the general election. All were looking for a new vision and principled leadership.

Ted Cruz implemented sophisticated data analytics. This is a process wherein voters are analyzed on issue preference and crossed with cultural identity. A very sophisticated message is then personally targeted to undecided voters. The Cruz campaign constructed a list of 150,000 voters who had attended, in one year or another, a previous caucus. Through data analysis, they were able to refine messages to excite previous participants to attend again. This group would not have responded to the pollsters as first-time attendees. The nomenclature of the Iowa Republican caucus attendees was 62% evangelical and 50% very conservative. Seventy-five percent were looking for a candidate who thinks like they do. The Cruz strategy of data analytics was most effective.

Secretary Clinton’s strength rests in voters 60 years of age and older. They are more easily identifiable through contact lists. Senator Sanders’ strength lies among voters 35 years old and younger. A large percentage of his base is college-age students. It is very difficult to get college students to turn out in a primary election, let alone a caucus. The timing of this year’s caucuses found the college students on campus rather than at home where they were registered. It is impressive that he was able to come so close to winning. Hillary Clinton had over 2,000 trained and organized volunteers, many paid.

The average percent increase achieved of voter turnout for a candidate with sophisticated precinct organization is 7-10%. The larger number of votes cast, and the greater the area involved, diminishes this effect. But Iowa and New Hampshire both present themselves as efficient for organizational efforts. Senator Cruz and Secretary Clinton were able to stave off momentum from outside their base of support through disciplined voter identification and turnout programs.

The war within the Democratic Party is about economics. There is basic agreement on social policy.

The war within the Republican Party is about social policy. There is basic agreement on economic policy.

What’s next?

New Hampshire is the next primary state. Again, it is a small turnout state. Approximately 120,000 votes are cast in their Republican primary. Organizing 12,000 people to make a 10% difference is very doable. New Hampshire is less conservative, less evangelical, and more establishment. Organization will again play a role. New Hampshire has not often in the past confirmed the Iowa winner. In fact, only a few times in history has a candidate from either party won both Iowa and New Hampshire, and then the Presidency. However, very few establishment candidates have lost both Iowa and New Hampshire, and then gone on to win the nomination of their party. One establishment candidate is likely to emerge from New Hampshire. Momentum appears to be on Senator Rubio’s side.

Donald Trump made a very gracious concession speech in Iowa. For the first time, he showed humility. At some point, either in New Hampshire or South Carolina (the third primary state), success will necessitate that he present a policy statement to indicate how he will govern. Bravado by itself will not be enough.

Senator Sanders is the one candidate who has said exactly what he will do if elected President. Secretary Clinton has attacked his programs as foolish and unable to be implemented. She has not given specifics for her own vision. The Democratic primary is now a competition between a new vision for changing the economic structure of the United States versus standing on the status quo of the Obama administration programs.

Senator Sanders’ campaign has nowhere near the state-by-state organization in place as that of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She has literally been building her organization for over ten years. And the building blocks have been from traditional Democratic Party structure. For Bernie Sanders to be victorious, his movement will have to answer the call of his Iowa caucus night speech – are you ready for a revolution?

Never in recent history have so many people shown their commitment to the democratic process by attending caucuses as the people of Iowa did last night. They went armed with conviction, knowledge on the issues, and a determination to send a clear clarion call to their fellow citizens of the United States.

Decide what kind of America you want, decide what kind of leadership you want for that America, and act upon it.

The nominating process is now far from over for both parties. The diversity and complexity of the state-by-state process will now become part of the political infrastructure and building blocks for successful nomination. No one is going to sweep to victory.

In Iowa, the people won because, as an electorate, they committed themselves to the process. They came partly through the campaigns and partly through their own patriotism to make their voices heard. The grassroots will now forever be organized differently. A new movement is coming, based upon personal issue preferences, cultural background, ideological values, and hopes for a desired future. The Iowa caucus attendees also made a statement as to a preference for character of leadership.

It is now imperative that each of us, as Americans in the subsequent primaries and caucuses, make the same determinations, the same analysis of values, and the same commitment to the process.

The genesis of a new movement in America is emerging.

The candidates who are ultimately successful will provide a vision, a path to achieve the vision, and a clear and cogent presentation on their values as eternal principles.

Character, vision, and leadership will be what ultimately galvanize the new movement.

My name is Marc Nuttle and this is what I believe.

What do you believe?