An interesting evening last night. I was switching between the Pistons-Nets game and the news channels (mostly Fox but some CNN) for the Iowa caucus news.
Both provided good news. The Pistons managed to get past Brooklyn Lopez and the Oligarchs and Ted Cruz made second place great again for The Donald (as one of my Facebook friends noted).
As I half-predicted, Mike Huckabee packed it in after a 2% showing in corn country, while Martin O'Malley did likewise after his total rounded up to 1%, creating the interesting graphic of Clinton 50%, Sanders 50% and O'Malley 1% as the port-side squeaker unfolded. I wasn't sure which of Huck or Santorum would cry uncle, but that one would. Santorum will likely do the same in short order.
The surprise showing was provided by Marco Rubio, just missing catching Trump for second. He's fairly conservative by historic standards and was a Tea Party favorite 5.5 years ago by running Charlie Crist off the field, but is cast as the Establishment (capital E per Laura Ingram here) choice in this ornery year. Given the rather lame showing by the other non-Tea-Party folks, New Hampshire's more-moderate Republicans who have been spraying about 40% between Rubio, Christie, Bush and Kasich might gravitate towards Rubio.
Trump underperformed his polling by a bit. That wasn't too much of a surprise, but it is encouraging. While Ted Cruz is a bit too 180-proof conservative for my taste, he wouldn't be blocking much that I would support were he to get to the White House this time next year. If Rubio's too dovish on immigration and too cooperative with non-conservatives to be viable in the primary, Cruz would be a solid alternative.
The thing is, I don't feel like an Establishment type; I'm on Medicaid as we speak and have never belonged to a country club nor owned more than one suit that fit me at a time. I'm just not overly libertarian and see folks around the world as fellow children of God along with Americans. Seeing some role for government beyond the military and police seems to make one beyond the pale for a True ConservativeTM.
The mistakes Rubio has made in the Senate (pro-immigration reform, pro-Arab Spring) were mistakes I would have made if I were in Rubio's shoes. Cruz proved to be right in that toppling garden-variety despots would backfire in a jihadi direction, but it was hard to accept that at the time.
Barring an odd rally by one of the Anglo-Establishment types, we seem to be left with Rubio, Cruz and some Anglo with a bad comb-over. Two out of three ain't bad.