Teavangelical Effects in Iowa (Aka Iowa Caucus 2.0)

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Thanks a bunch Iowa. Look what you’ve done. You’ve given us a GOP race that now has more questions than answers. We’re in for even more of a wild ride.  Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio can all lay claims to frontrunner status and paths to victory.

Let’s start with Ted Cruz. He and his campaign proved that a great ground game, a compelling message of constitutional conservatism and a solid backing from a record turnout of evangelicals is a recipe for winning gloriously. His team deserves a butt-load of credit for pulling this off. They were organized and had a candidate and a father who worked the pastor circuit like gangbusters. It worked because Cruz and his father had “street cred” with the pastors and in turn with many in their congregations. It paid off. What this victory in Iowa proved is that when a candidate authentically courts evangelicals with their time, a near-perfect ground game along with lots of money to propel it, evangelicals will respond. And when they respond in record numbers like they did in Iowa Monday night, they show that they are more than a force in American politics; they’re a game-changer.” As for what’s next for Cruz, unlike Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum (the last two Iowa Caucus winners), Cruz has millions to spend. He’s a force. Oh, and one more thing: Cruz is showcasing the power of a strong “Teavangelical” message; that is, a combination of evangelical and libertarian-style principles rooted in Judeo-Christian principles that make up the heart of the Tea Party. The Brody File coined the word, “Teavangelical” in 2012 and even wrote a book about it. Now, four years later the Teavangelical message just won Ted Cruz the state of Iowa.

As for Donald Trump, the media will knock him for a few days and his poll numbers may take a dip in New Hampshire but the truth is this: a second place victory for Trump in Iowa is actually a victory. I know he wanted to win and he was technically leading in the polls but be honest: when Trump got into the race nobody thought he’d be competitive let alone be competitive in evangelical-heavy Iowa for goodness sakes! But guess what? He surprised everybody and he should be proud of the effort. And another point of truth: While Cruz bested Trump among Iowa evangelicals, Trump still grabbed a decent chunk of them and because of that number, he came in second. He doesn’t come anywhere near second if he doesn’t get some evangelical support. That is a victory right there. Now, he heads to New Hampshire where he has a lead and is expected to win. So let’s game this out: He comes in second in Iowa and has a better shot to win New Hampshire. Then comes South Carolina where it will be war. South Carolina has a reputation for dirty politics and I think that reputation will get a long new chapter in a couple weeks.

Then there is Marco Rubio. Never has a third place finish felt like a victory. Rubio didn’t spend the amount of time in Iowa that Cruz did and he was left as an after thought a few months ago but then something began to happen. He started reaching out to evangelicals and began engaging about his faith. Boom. Uptick and that was a major factor in his strong third place showing. Iowa voters liked him the more and more they heard him and when he spoke about his faith they could tell it was authentic. A consultant didn’t form his thoughts. His heart formed them. So now Rubio leaves Iowa as a candidate that has shown he can play in the evangelical wing of he party. He already has plenty of traditional mainstream Republican establishment support and he also espouses many constitutional conservative principles. Yes, he’s another Teavangelical candidate for President of the United States (I know, I know, he’s Catholic but he still qualifies!). Put all of this together and Rubio is starting to morph into the traditional alternative to Cruz (anti-establishment) and Trump (the quintessential outsider). He’ll need to finish strong in New Hampshire to build off the momentum of Iowa.

So, in summary, Iowa it’s been real. The people are great and so is the food. Thank you for doing your due diligence when it comes to sifting through all of these presidential candidates. The Caucus vote Monday night made perfect sense because you left us with three candidates representing three distinct ways to lead the Republican Party.  In other words, it’s still one big mess but considering the direction of the Republican Party and conservatism at large being up in the air, I guess we wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s going to take a while to figure all of this out.  Hold on for the exciting ride…

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