Forget the numbers; here’s who I think REALLY won last night

I’m writing this as of 9:30 pm CT and Senator Ted Cruz has won the GOP Iowa caucus with 28 percent. Donald Trump came in second with 24 percent and Marco Rubio finished third with 23 percent. Dr. Ben Carson was a very, very distant fourth at 9 percent.

Ted Cruz had to win Iowa — he put many resources and emphasis there and it was important because New Hampshire will be very different and difficult for Ted Cruz. Also, if you didn’t hear, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott announced his endorsement of Marco Rubio. As this race heads to the first in the nation primary Granite State of New Hampshire, the dynamics are shifted. New Hampshire is where the GOP establishment will decide who will be its standard-bearer.

That is why Governors Christie and Kasich spent most of their time in New Hampshire. But could they fall victim to the Rudy Giuliani syndrome, as he did in Florida? The former mayor of New York City invested completely in the Sunshine State and when he lost there, he lost.

So congratulations to Senator Ted Cruz, but the real winner this evening was actually Marco Rubio. And folks, spare me all the invectives and think for a moment. Rubio came out of nowhere and was one percentage point from finishing second. He’ll go to the next round and be in position to once again finish in the top three. Then he’ll go on to South Carolina with the possibility to do well there as well, having the endorsements of Rep. Trey Gowdy and Sen. Tim Scott. The battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz enabled Marco Rubio to seize the moment.

If Rubio finishes ahead of the other GOP establishment folks in New Hampshire — Bush, Kasich, and Christie — expect the message to go out, drop out fellas. As we see others “suspend” their campaigns the question becomes where do they go? If there’s a ceiling for Trump and Cruz that could be perilous.

New Hampshire will test the polls that have Donald Trump so far ahead. And to whom will Gov. Mike Huckabee lend his support – or as a matter of fact, any of the others who may be dropping out? The telltale sign of who’s considered the biggest threat? Look at who will be the recipient of the most negative ads, and who’s the candidate running the most positive ads.

New Hampshire will confirm or deny that this is a three-man race between Cruz, Trump, and Rubio. I just cannot wait to hear all the talking heads and campaign types who will dismiss Iowa. What is a warning to the Beltway elites and pundits is that 61 percent of the vote in Iowa went to the “insurgent” GOP presidential candidates. And folks, that’s why there will be pressure on candidates to drop out and rally behind Rubio. It’s a three-man GOP race, but the dynamic to watch for is will Cruz and Trump destroy each other, while Marco Rubio eases right by the two bloodied and bruised candidates?

As for the Democrat side of the Iowa caucus, well, there’s something weird about folks dancing around for a 74-year-old socialist. Bernie Sanders won in Iowa, I don’t care what happens, he beat Hillary. And with Martin O’Malley dropping out the Bern will pick up more uber liberal progressive supporters. Last year in May, Bernie Sanders was fifty percentage points behind Hillary Clinton and even as recently as after the first Democrat debate no one gave Bernie Sanders a chance.

Now they’re about to head to New Hampshire where he’s blowing Hillary Clinton away. The Clinton camp is in panic mode and they’ll do what they do best — dirty stuff. Expect the Clinton flying monkeys to go out and foment fear mongering with blacks down south about Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton cannot afford to lose in South Carolina and across the south. So she’ll play the race card against a 74-year-old white socialist guy and portray him as a racist liberal progressive socialist elitist. Now, I just have to laugh, because we have a liberal progressive socialist black guy sitting in the White House.

Hillary Clinton is watching it slip away. But here’s the dilemma for the Democrat Party: they have an establishment as well, and the Clintons are the standard-bearers. There is a euphoria and enthusiasm not witnessed in the Clinton camp. If the Democrat Party plays a game and there’s a perceived undermining of Sanders, these young idealistic young people will stay home. And that’s why I stick to my original assessment, which I wrote here, that Hillary will fade and Joe Biden will arise, with Elizabeth Warren as a running mate to placate the far left ideologues.

The Democrats behind the scenes are troubled and just as Donald Trump came from nowhere to build a movement, so has Bernie Sanders. They both must be reckoned with!

As we go forward, Cruz and Hillary Clinton can claim tactical victory in this contest…but strategically, Rubio and Sanders have the operational momentum and are exactly in the right place.

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