The first votes in the 2016 presidential election have now been cast. Ted Cruz upset Donald Trump, while Marco Rubio surged to a strong third-place position. The Democratic results were less decisive: Hillary Clinton barely won over Bernie Sanders (twenty-two delegates to twenty-one). Here are four reflections on last night’s results.
First, the face of America is changing. On the Republican side, two Cuban-Americans (Cruz and Rubio) and an African-American (Dr. Ben Carson) collectively gained sixty-one percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Clinton took a major step toward becoming the first female presidential candidate of a major political party.
Second, strategy matters. Cruz has been organizing in Iowa since 2013. His campaign enlisted 11,986 volunteers who worked day and night to call Iowa’s voters and knock on their doors. Rubio’s campaign followed a different strategy, banking on a late surge and projecting him as the candidate who could unite the party. The Clinton and Sanders campaigns likewise utilized high-tech demographics analysis and low-tech volunteer networks.
Third, personal accessibility is vital. Time magazine’s David Von Drehle explains the popularity of Trump and Sanders as examples of “disintermediation,” otherwise known as “dumping the middleman.” Trump has nearly six million Twitter followers; he and Sanders spoke to massive crowds. They took their message directly to the people and many responded: Sanders virtually tied Clinton, while Trump placed ahead of every “establishment” candidate.
Fourth, passion is more important than polling. When Iowans were polled just before last night’s caucuses, the results indicated that Trump and Sanders would win while Rubio would place a distant third. But those with the passion to endure the winter weather and the long caucus process elected Cruz and propelled Clinton, while Rubio nearly tied Trump for second. The number of people who say they support a candidate is less relevant than the number of people who vote for one.
There is clearly a long ways to go before the last primary on June 14. Any number of factors, from the domestic economy to global terrorism, could change the election dramatically. But as usual, the candidates with the most relevant message and most passionate supporters will likely win their party’s nomination. At the end of the day, America wants a president who will best serve Americans.
It is basic human nature to follow leaders who care about us. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1–20). Paul wished himself “accursed” for his Jewish people (Romans 9:3) and gave his life for the Gentiles he was called to reach. When we follow their example, our compassion and our passion will draw many to our Lord.
In politics as in life, the old maxim is true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.