The political suspense isn’t over now that the Iowa caucuses are history. There will be plenty of intrigue to track on the day after, too.
What to watch Tuesday:
UMM, WHO WON?: The Democratic caucus results were so tight that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both went to bed unsure who’d won. Will party bigwigs declare a winner Tuesday or simply leave it as a draw?
CLAIMING VICTORY: There’s more than one way to define victory. Multiple candidates will try to claim a win simply by exceeding low expectations. Marco Rubio is fashioning his third-place showing as an “important step to winning the nomination.” Rand Paul is trumpeting a “strong top-five finish.”
EXIT STRATEGIES: Does Iowa turn into a knockout blow for more bottom-tier candidates? Democrat Martin O’Malley and Republican Mike Huckabee bailed out before midnight on caucus night. More candidates could look for the exits after sleeping on it.
SPIN CYCLE – WHY IOWA DOESN’T MATTER: Poor performers in the caucuses will look for ways to play down the importance of Iowa. Ben Carson, for one, complained in his evening speech that he’d been the target of caucus-night dirty tricks.
SPIN CYCLE – WHY IOWA MATTERS: Winners and those who exceeded expectations will be happy to play up the significance of the Iowa results. Just how far do they stretch that victory lap?
WHERE NEXT? It’s not just where the candidates point their planes, but where they ship all those Iowa staffers who will be packing their bags Tuesday. With New Hampshire just a week away, the state already is flooded with campaign staff and advertising dollars. While most candidates were planting themselves in New Hampshire, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has stops Tuesday in both New Hampshire and South Carolina; he thinks his conservative message may resonate in the latter state.
ADS, ADS, ADS: For Iowans, it’s now safe to turn on the TV; viewers in New Hampshire, beware. From Tuesday forward, presidential candidates and the outside groups helping them are set to spend $11 million on TV and radio ads in the state, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG. By New Hampshire primary night, spending in the state will have topped $116 million. If the month of January is a guide, look for Trump with a side of Trump. Political ads already are popping up in states with later primaries and caucuses: Nevada has $1.7 million in ads scheduled.
MONEY CHASE: Beware of inbox overload. Wins and losses have one thing in common: They’re both fundraising opportunities. Expect many breathless emails from the candidates that convert their Iowa performances – fantastic or dismal – into pleas for campaign cash. Iowa winner Cruz had an email out before midnight warning that “I must raise over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in the next 24 hours or I risk wasting our Iowa victory.”
ENDORSEMENT CHASE: As candidates exit the race, where do they point their supporters? Donald Trump plans to campaign in Arkansas on Wednesday. Could he be hoping to pick up an endorsement from Huckabee?
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.