The Morning Briefing: Is That a Caucus on Your Calendar or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

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Happy Monday, dear Kruiser Morning Briefing friends. Ellweiler could never be sure if his fellow condimenteers were mocking or praising when they referred to him as “The Gherkin Wizard.” 

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And so it begins. 

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The election year to end all election years (or so many say) finally gets under way today with some voting. Or caucusing. Or vote caucusing. 

Be weirder, Iowa. 

The debates are finally over and the guy who didn’t show up to any of them is expected to dominate all of the frozen caucus-going. My Townhall colleague Sarah Arnold writes that former President Donald Trump is entering the meat and potatoes portion of the primary season in historic fashion: 

Former President Trump made history on Saturday night with the final Iowa Caucus poll showing he has a massive, commanding lead over his GOP opponents. 

According to the final Des Moines Register/Mediacom/NBC News poll of likely Republican caucusgoers, Trump holds a 28 percent advantage over the nearest challenger.

The former president has a rating of 48 percent, compared to Former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 20 percent support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sits at just 16 percent support. The two Republicans have fought neck and neck for second place since announcing their candidacy. 

That’s some resounding validation for the “no debates” strategy. Given how ineffective the debates were at helping DeSantis, Haley, or that other dude from gaining any ground on Trump, the GOP might want to consider scrapping them altogether for future elections.

Of course, if the Democrats have their way, Trump won’t make it to any of the general election debates either because he’ll be incarcerated. 

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If you’re a political junkie, you may as well just lay in a supply of popcorn and your favorite adult beverage, then kick back and enjoy the spectacle until all of the “peaceful protesting” breaks out or we’re all gulag-bound (or both). 

Barring an upset that virtually no one sees on the horizon, the jockeying for second place provides the only intrigue in the first several contests. That’s something that very few would have predicted six months ago. This race was thought by most to be just between Trump and DeSantis. Because we can’t have nice things, Nikki Haley and her Hillary-loving ways have become the Long COVID of the GOP race. 

I’ve talked to a lot of very nice people in recent weeks who would love for Haley to be Trump’s running mate. After each one of these conversations, I get back to work on my expatriation bucket list. 

While Trump does seem to have a comfortable lead that shouldn’t yield any surprises in Iowa, it’s best not to go all-in on any political predictions these days. The only thing that we do know is that it’s not going be “Yay, let’s leave the house weather!” in Iowa today. 

This is from Rick

It’s snowing in much of the Midwest this weekend. After the blizzard, temperatures are expected to drop into single digits with wind chills at -30 to -40 below.

Iowa has already seen record snowfall and falling temperatures have added an unpredictability to the caucuses. Not the kind of unpredictability that would cost Trump a first-place finish. But everything from Trump’s margin of victory to the second and third-place finishers is up in the air.

Many Iowa Caucus-goers are elderly. Many live a considerable distance from the caucus site. And then there’s the enthusiasm factor; just how eager are Iowans who support Trump, DeSantis, or Haley to go out in sub-zero weather, show up at a caucus site, and spend two or three hours standing around when there’s little or no doubt about the outcome?

Iowans are a hearty folk but asking them to suffer this kind of discomfort for their candidate may be asking a bit too much.

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I’m in Ann Arbor, Michigan right now and it is currently a balmy -5 degrees. As a native of the Sonoran Desert, I find this weather to be reprehensible. I also think that people who voluntarily live in places where the weather is like this are clinically insane, so I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the Iowa children of the corn caucus-goers show up shirtless to partake in their strange caucus ways. 

If the weather does have a negative impact and keep people home, it will probably be the DeSantis and Haley supporters. One thing Trump fans never lack is enthusiasm. They’ll crawl through glass, walk over hot coals, then risk hypothermia just to get their MAGA on. 

Anyway, the first frozen steps to November’s bad production of Dueling Grandpas will be taken today. Hopefully we’ll soon know who the Republican understudy is. 

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I think she’s running away from home. 

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