News & Politics

How Cruz Won Iowa

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Christian Science Monitor has it all figured out:

Two numbers explain a lot about what happened in last night’s Iowa caucuses – and what might now occur in the primary race ahead.

The first is 64. That’s the percentage of Hawkeye State GOP caucus goers who were Evangelicals, according to entrance polls. That’s much higher than anticipated: The final Des Moines Register poll released Saturday assumed that about 47 percent of Republican caucus attendees would be evangelical Christians.

Ted Cruz did really well with these voters. He won about one-third of Evangelicals, while Donald Trump won about one- fifth.“And that pretty much explains Cruz’s victory,” writes John McCormack in the right-leaning Weekly Standard.

Senator Cruz outperformed his poll numbers and pulled off a surprising win because Evangelicals turned out in big numbers. Among non-evangelical voters, he lost to Trump, 22 to 29 percent. That’s close to how final polls had predicted the caucuses would end up.

Wow. Going forward, the Cruz camp had better not count on that kind of an electorate mix. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger:

The second number is 84. That’s the percentage of voters age 18 to 29 won by Bernie Sanders, according to an NBC exit poll. That’s dominance, at least in that age group. Senator Sanders won the next oldest group as well, taking 58 percent of voters age 30 to 44.

Look at it this way: Sanders did better with young voters than did Barack Obama in his hope-and-change campaign of 2008. Obama won 57 percent of the under-29 crowd in that year’s Iowa Democratic caucus. Young adults made up a smaller share of the vote this time around, 18 percent of caucus attendees, as opposed to 22 percent in 2008, points out Vox’s Sarah Kliff.

“Still, enough of them got behind Sanders that they were able to boost his performance significantly – and send him off to New Hampshire in a strong way,” writes Ms. Kliff.

Pass the popcorn.