I foolishly chided the guys at 538.com for excessive reliance on numbers, and inattention to the zeitgeist. I have been put in my place by Nate Silver, and his reference to a key feature of war gaming by the German General Staff — fingerspitzengefuhl, or a feel, an awareness, for the field of conflict. Touche.
My blog post on winning Nevada is up at American Thinker. There are still supposedly twelve candidates in the race. You’d think one of them would take a fling with this idea.
Speaking of fingerspitzengefuhl (I know we’re supposed to take Germans seriously, but with words like that it’s hard), here’s my feel for the field of play at the moment. Cruz has got Iowa in the palm of his hand. Iowa evangelicals, quite understandably, prefer one of their own. Jimmy Carter got the ball rolling in 1976, campaigning as a born again Southern Baptist. Pat Robertson did the same in 1988, Huckabee in 2008, Santorum in 2012, first Carson, now Cruz in 2016. These guys relate to evangelical voters viscerally, the way only one of their own can. And winning all three of the most important evangelical endorsements is icing on the cake. When you add voters from the Tea Party and Libertarian rings of the party, you’ve got a winner, especially since New Netherlander Trump is such a poor fit in Midlands Iowa. Cruz is working harder than anyone, is superbly organized, and doesn’t make mistakes. Big Corn will try to take him down, but if they don’t kill him they’ll only make him stronger —
— in New Hampshire, where anyone with any fingerspitzengefuhl can see what’s happening. Rubio has been sucked in to a four way free for all with Christie, Kasich and Bush 3. Rubio is ceding the conservative lane to Trump and Cruz, and will fight the other three “establishment” candidates for the ticket out of New Hampshire. It’s already turning into a circular food fight, with burritos and mashed potato pancakes flying through the air. Not fun at all; demeaning and petty. It’s a crowded lane.
Rubio must beat all three, and there’s no reason he can’t. Bush 3 is nothing but a sad nuisance, Kasich is ornery and arrogant, and Christie is an obnoxious loud mouth. If Don Juan of Florida can’t beat this crew, he’s not the man I thought he was.
So, for the moment, Cruz floats above the fray in New Hampshire, while in Iowa he effortlessly bats away low blows from the Donald on his citizenship. For Cruz, it’s a very good sign that Trump is challenging him on this. That’s all he’s got, at least for the moment.
After winning Iowa, Cruz will have one week to make his move in New Hampshire, and clinch the nomination. He will have defeated Big Corn, the embodiment of corrupt, crony capitalism, Iowa style. Trump’s balloon will have deflated, and voters hungry for someone to take on Washington corruption will give Cruz a hard look. Carson evangelicals and Paul libertarians will naturally trend his way as their candidates fade.
McCain skipped Iowa in 2000, and beat Bush 2 in New Hampshire 49-30. He competed in 2008, but maintained his opposition to Big Corn by opposing ethanol’s Renewable Fuels Standard. His resulting fourth place finish was not a problem in New Hampshire, where he beat Romney 37-31.
My fingerspitzengefuhl tells me opposition to ethanol can be a big winner in New Hampshire. The narrative, as it stands today, will allow Cruz to test that hypothesis between the third and ninth of February.
Come on, Felito, give it a try.