What to Look For in Iowa tonight.
Tonight, the first votes are actually cast in the 2016 presidential selection contest. No more polls, no more predictions, no more theories, actual hard votes. The only polls that really count.
What's going to happen? Here are a few things to look out for:
1.)Weather. The forecast Monday morning says severe weather is coming late Monday night. If it comes earlier, it could impact turnout which will hurt Trump and sanders, who are relying more than the others on firsttime caucus attendees.
2.)Overall turnout. The higher the turnout, the better the chances for Trump and Sanders victories. The GOP turnout in 2012 was 122,000 which was a record.
3.)Trump. The polls indicate Trump's support in the range of 25-28%. If it's higher, his momentum builds and he may be much harder to stop. If he disappoints and his numbers are in the low 20's or lower, and he doesn't win, his campaign is in trouble.
4.)Cruz. The expectations are high, and he needs to win or place second. If he falls to third or below, he is in serious trouble.
5.)Rubio. He is expected to place at least third with around 15% of the vote. If he fails, his campaign could be mortally wounded.
6.)The rest of the pack. If any of the rest place third or better, chaos reigns, they have new life and the future landscape changes significantly. Money and attention will be showered upon them as the anti-Trump and Cruz forces look for a new champion.
7.)If Hillary wins big, 57% or better, Bernie may be done. If he wins, or even comes close, say 47%, he has the Big Mo going into New Hampshire.
Expectations are everything in politics, and when performance doesn't match them, strange things happen. The risk candidates take in raising expectations is that in doing so, they may be dooming themselves.
My prediction: For the D's, Bernie wins with 53%. For the GOP, Cruz wins with 28%, Trump 26%, Rubio 19%. And at least three Republicans leave the race in the three days following Iowa.