Originally Posted: February 1, 2016
The following is an excerpt from an SMU news release:
DALLAS (SMU) – Not unlike expectations that a groundhog seeing its shadow can predict a long winter or early spring, the results of the Iowa caucuses can determine whether Americans are in for a long or short primary season. SMU experts are ready to discuss who has the most at stake, what factors could determine who wins Iowa, and what impact the results will have on the Republican and Democrat presidential races at large.
For Sanders, Iowa a Must-Win; For Republicans, A Chance to Coalesce
There’s no doubting stakes are high for candidates in both parties in the Iowa caucus, but as Wilson sees it, they’re highest for Bernie Sanders supporters and anyone-but-Trump Republicans.
“If Sanders is able to win Iowa, then he could become a bigger movement, but if he does not win Iowa, then the expected New Hampshire win starts to look like more of a home-field anomaly and the air starts to come out of his balloon,” Wilson said. “If he wants to be more than a novelty, Iowa is a big night for him.”
The Republican race took an unexpected turn when Donald Trump’s biggest challenger turned out to be Ted Cruz, a politician Wilson says is reviled by many of his Republican colleagues. Rivals attacked Cruz persistently at Thursday’s debate, potentially turning Monday’s question from “who wins Iowa” to “who finishes second?”
“If Marco Rubio moves past Cruz to second place, that becomes a big story,” Wilson says. “That would show some coalescing of the conventional republican establishment behind one candidate.”
If the unexpected happens and Trump loses Iowa, Wilson says it could deal a tremendous blow to the real estate mogul, whose campaign has been all about, “An aura of momentum, confidence and impending victory.”
Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science.