His final polling average was 28.6 percent, nearly five points better than Cruz. As I write this, with 91 percent of Iowa reporting, he’s at 24.4 percent, more than three points behind Cruz and less than a point and a half ahead of Rubio for third place — and that’s despite projected turnout of 180,000 voters, a number which everyone expected would assure victory for Trump. He could have gone onstage and given Iowans the full Trump treatment — losers, morons, the whole shebang — but that would have been risky with New Hampshire just a week away and Rubio suddenly viable on the center-right. So he played it smart and dignified. Erick Erickson:
If he can do this in a caucus, which requires the voter to go out and stay out for a rather long time just to cast a series of votes, he can certainly do it in a primary. When you get right down to it, Donald Trump got nearly 40,000 people to show up on a cold February night when a blizzard is on the horizon. That’s no joke.
We have a series of proportional states forthcoming in which we could possibly see Trump pull higher numbers than he has here in Iowa precisely because it can be done with less organization.
What should scare everyone now is if there are any indications Trump decides this was a good opening negotiation point by the voters and begins spending on organization now in earnest.
After all, we know this was just the opening round and Trump isn’t done yet.
The guy’s basically half-assing his campaign and he still beat the Great Establishment Hope for second place (I think) and nearly knocked off the hyper-organized, hyper-competent Cruz campaign. He’s no joke. And thanks to a divided moderate field, there’s still every reason to think he’ll win New Hampshire. I’ll leave you with this:
Trump now at 41,812 votes, bigger than Huckabee's 2008 total. That's a real constituency.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) February 2, 2016