Trump skipping the final Republican debate prior to the Iowa caucus was certainly a bold move. While many predicted FOX’s ratings would tank in Trump’s absence, it ended up being the second most viewed program in the network’s history.
When Trump’s event under-performed the Republican debate, it began to appear that Trump’s gamble was a bit too risky. FOX garnered 12.5 million viewers (more than the last debate before it, which included Trump), while Trump’s event attracted 2.7 million viewers.
Trump is finally commenting on his decision to skip the debate, and for the first time he’s expressing regret.
As the New York Post reports:
Donald Trump took the blame Tuesday night for his loss in Iowa, admitting that skipping last week’s final pre-caucus GOP debate might have cost him first place and musing that he could have done better with his ground game in the Hawkeye State.
“I think it could’ve been with the debate,” Trump admitted in New Hampshire when asked about his second-place finish. “I think some people were disappointed that I didn’t go into the debate.”
Trump also admitted to Fox’s Sean Hannity on Tuesday that his get-out-the-vote operation in Iowa could have been more effective.
“We didn’t have much of a ground game because I didn’t think I was going to be winning,” Trump said. “That’s why I’m so honored to have come in second. Most people said I wouldn’t be in the top 10 originally when I started in Iowa.”
“And yeah, in retrospect, we could have done much better with the ground game, yes.”
The acknowledgments of responsibility from Trump came after he had spent the day criticizing others, including the media and the voters themselves.
Whether or not Trump’s loss to Cruz in the Iowa caucus is an indication of a general decline in his popularity is still up for debate. The last two caucus winners were Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, and we know their distance from the presidency has been perpetually receding ever since.
Iowa is rarely a barometer of public opinion. Another way to view the statistics are that almost 20 percent of people chose to watch his event over one with seven other Republicans. In the grand scheme of things, Trump could still be the favorite.
The first primary is in New Hampshire on February 9th. It’ll be exciting to see how the numbers play out from here.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]