Deace: Iowa’s Unanswered Questions

Barb Wire

With three weeks to go until Iowans brave wintry desolation to cast the first official votes in the 2016 presidential election, the candidates face the following unanswered questions that will determine their fate.

And for fun, we’ll also include the Democrats.

What happens to the family brand going forward if Jeb finishes fifth or lower?

Jeb Bush

The last Bush to disappoint in Iowa was his father, who finished third in 1988 but went on to win the nomination as well as the presidency. What happens to the family brand going forward if Jeb finishes fifth or lower?

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Ben Carson

Voters still like and admire him, but he’s been cratering in the polls anyway. Mainly because he’s been unable to answer this question: What makes you a credible commander-in-chief?

Chris Christie

The worst kept secret in Iowa politics is that Governor Terry Branstad’s political machine has been supporting Christie for quite some time now. But can Christie convince Branstad to come out of the closet publicly and go all-in down the stretch to help him surprise us come caucus night?

Hillary Clinton

Is her massive campaign machine able to avoid getting ambushed by the state’s even-more-Left Democratic base yet again? While her challenger from the Left this go around, Bernie Sanders, lacks the charisma of a Barack Obama from eight years ago, his message resonates more with the activists who dominate the caucuses.

Three weeks is an eternity when it comes to campaign trail discipline.

Ted Cruz

Can he keep the debate about substantive issues when his challengers want to discuss anything but? Since Cruz, the Iowa frontrunner, is collectively to the right of the GOP field on the issues, the typical back-and-forth about who’s the superior conservative isn’t happening this primary. So Cruz’s rivals are trolling him more than anything else. Cruz’s challenge these final 21 days is not to take the bait, but three weeks is an eternity when it comes to campaign trail discipline.

Carly Fiorina

She went from a personal high of 10.3% in the Real Clear Politics polling average of Iowa on October 19 to 3.8% just a week later on October 26. She now sits at just 2.4%. No other candidate rose and fell as fast as she did in this cycle. Why is that?

Mike Huckabee

One year ago he led the Real Clear Politics polling average of Iowa at 15.8%, with almost twice the support of his next closest competitor. However, 12 months later he’s fallen to 2.6% and eighth place in the state. So does he really think coming across as bitter and napalming his fellow Christians is the way to finish out from here?

John Kasich

Was he really not paying attention to what happened to Jon Huntsman four years ago?

Martin O’Malley

If he really wants to beat Hillary Clinton, shouldn’t he drop out so that Bernie has a go at her one-on-one?

Rand Paul

He’s currently at 7% combined in the Real Clear Politics polling average of Iowa and New Hampshire, so why is he wasting his time running for president when he still has a U.S. Senate seat to worry about? Especially when he spends the bulk of his time attacking the only candidate with a chance to win who credibly promotes any of the liberty message.

Marco Rubio

If he’s not going to be the candidate of the churches or the business class, which is where the strongest caucus campaigns in Iowa originate, where does the organizational support—which he needs to finish at least a credible third—come from?

Rick Santorum

Despite being the reigning caucus champion, he’s never been higher than 6% in the Real Clear Politics polling average of Iowa even before he announced. Now he’s at less than 1% support with 21 days to go. Given the lack of evidence that there was any clamoring for a 2016 sequel, why did he run in the first place?

Bernie Sanders

Does he really want to beat Hillary? If Sanders is willing to lay out the differences between the two (namely, that he’s a true Marxist while Hillary is in bed with the corporations), he can absolutely win Iowa, because the caucus demographics are clearly in his favor. Remember, Hillary didn’t just lose to Obama in Iowa eight years ago, but she finished third.

Donald Trump

Trump is running more of a primary-style campaign with splashy, big events, rather than the flesh-pressing retail campaigning that pays off in a caucus state. Therefore, organizational follow-through and mobilization are even more vital to his prospects. Especially given how many non-conventional caucus-goers he’ll need to turn out to win. He has good people working the ground for him, but are they equipped and prepared to pull off perhaps the most unique get-out-the-vote effort in Iowa history?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Steve Deace
Steve Deace is one of the "Heavy Hundred" talk show hosts in America according Talkers Magazine. His influence in the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses has been profiled in much of the national media, and he's also a columnist for The Washington Times. His new book, out now and endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders, is titled Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.

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