Brummett Online

OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Iowa no state for sane Asa

In the quadrennially overblown Iowa Republican caucuses, won in recent years by Presidents Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump succeeded overwhelmingly Monday night among professed born-again evangelical Christians, rural white voters and those without college degrees.

He won the modern Republican Party, that is. It's not reflective of America, which is America's only hope.

Nikki Haley ran credibly among college-educated Republicans living in suburbs and college towns.

But there are far more professed born-again rural white Republican voters without college degrees than city and suburban Republican voters with college degrees, both in Iowa and nationwide. As Trump once said, "I love the poorly educated."

Ron DeSantis got Trump's dregs of evangelicals and white rural voters. He got to second place, narrowly over Haley. It turns out that Trump's hard-right dregs also outnumbered Haley's college-educated city and suburban dwellers.

From that, we got this outcome and conclusion: Iowa was not irrelevant this time. It showed Trump the shoo-in he appears to be.

Haley copped a constituency--college-educated city and suburban Republicans. She ran about even with Trump in Iowa in that demographic. She also sustained a glimpse of momentum for next week's New Hampshire primary, a different kind of contest with fewer evangelical Republicans.

Haley conceivably could beat Trump in New Hampshire and give him a fight until Super Tuesday, when the vast number of participating states will give Trump a prohibitive advantage with his gigantic profile and celebrity. Haley also trails Trump badly in the soon-upcoming South Carolina primary. She was a popular governor there. It appears from polls that South Carolina Republicans thought she was a good governor, and that Trump was, and would again be, a good president.

DeSantis is a big loser. His base is MAGA people who don't want Trump. That's a small subset.

Republicans are a seriously hard-right bunch. For any talk of Haley's modest momentum, the math from Iowa still showed more than three-fourths of caucus-goers--those for Trump, DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy--way out in kook territory.

I got asked on a weekly videocast Monday to explain Trump's popularity with evangelicals. I answered that evangelical voters aren't looking to Trump for a moral example, but for the good effects they see from his cynical pandering to them on conservative policies. I said he gets even more popular with evangelicals the more Democrats and liberals indict or sue him--persecute him for being the Lord's mysteriously chosen agent, they think.

Meantime, in sad news of local interest, our guy Asa Hutchinson finished dismally last among declared candidates, at 0.2 percent and behind even a businessman and pastor, going by the name of Ryan Binkley, whom I hadn't known was running.

Asa, who dropped out Tuesday morning, was in punch-line territory. He traipsed all over Iowa, finding friendly faces and reminding people who he was and that he hadn't dropped out. He sensed alliance with some of the evangelicals, being one himself in the era preceding the deal with the Trumpian devil.

For it, he got 191 votes. One guy quipped on social media that, with zero votes, he was closing in on Hutchinson for last place.

I have long applauded Hutchinson for his practical intelligence and cautious spunk. I admire that he, when asked by a reporter about fear of embarrassment for a poor showing, scoffed at the notion that personal embarrassment was any price to pay for offering his party and country a choice he believes they need.

But his party doesn't want that choice, no matter what gets revealed about Trump at trial. And the party chooses before the full country can.

The only possible reason for him to continue to New Hampshire was that he said he noticed a bit of an uptick in his reception there after Chris Christie, the only other anti-Trumper and more well-known, dropped out.

A candidate who sees a silver lining in a less-humiliating last place is one who needs quiet time back home to get to work on that memoir.

I'd like him to call it "Extinct: From Reaganism to Irrelevance--How I Stayed the Same While Nothing Else Did."

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected]. Read his @johnbrummett feed on X, formerly Twitter.

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