No, Cruz Didn't Win Iowa By Cheating. Here's Why Trump's Pushing That Narrative.

February 3, 2016

No, Ted Cruz did not cheat to win Iowa.

This is the latest charge from Donald Trump, who has been flailing about for an explanation as to how The Yugest Winner™ became Iowa’s Biggest Loser. First he said he had no real ground game in Iowa; then he claimed that the media sandbagged him; now he’s explaining that he was thwarted by Cruz’s evil Canadian usurpation.

Yesterday, Trump ripped into Cruz for supposedly lying about Ben Carson’s decision to leave Iowa early, as well as the Cruz campaign mailer telling Iowans whether they had voted in previous elections. He then added, “No, it’s honestly really, really dishonest. And I think I know why. You know why? Because he was born in Canada…He gets the nomination, they’re going to sue his ass off.”

Now Trump’s on Twitter making the same accusations:

Let’s go through these bizarre, inane assertions one-by-one.

The Polls Show Cruz Stole Iowa. Cruz outperformed the polls in Iowa by 3.8 percent; Trump underperformed by 4.3 percent. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio outperformed the RealClearPolitics poll average by 6.2 percent. So, did Rubio cheat? How about Ben Carson, who outperformed the polls by 1.6 percent? What absolute tripe. Trump wasn’t the only candidate who significantly underperformed the polls: Jeb Bush underperformed by 1.3 percent, Huckabee by 1.3 percent, Kasich by 1 percent. These were all within normal Iowa poll movement.

The Cruz Press Release Stole Votes From Ben Carson. Fact: the Ben Carson campaign suspension rumor came from CNN, and that rumor originated with the Carson campaign. Trevor Loudon puts together the full timeline here, but here’s a brief summary: CNN reported at approximately 4:45 PM ET that Carson was going home to Florida after Iowa. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a Cruz supporter, tweeted what everyone in the political world was thinking: “Carson looks like he is out. Iowans need to know before they vote. Most will go to Cruz, I hope.” At 5:08 PM ET CNN itself tweeted, “After the #IAcaucus, @RealBenCarson plans to take a break from campaigning.” A Cruz staffer then told precinct captains, “Breaking News. The press is reporting that Dr. Ben Carson is taking time off from the campaign trail after Iowa and making a big announcement next week. Please inform any Carson caucus goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted Cruz.” Apparently, Rubio also “pushed the narrative hard” that Carson was dumping out of the race, according to a tweet from Conrad Close, who identifies as a Rubio supporter. Cruz has apologized for the screw-up:

Last night when our political team saw the CNN post saying that Dr. Carson was not carrying on to New Hampshire and South Carolina, our campaign updated grassroots leaders just as we would with any breaking news story. That's fair game. What the team then should have done was send around the follow-up statement from the Carson campaign clarifying that he was indeed staying in the race when that came out.

At it was, Carson outperformed the polling average by 1.6 percent, as mentioned.

The “Voter Violation” Certificate. The media made a ridiculously big deal over a normal campaign mailer that the Cruz campaign sent out this year in Iowa; so did the Iowa Secretary of State. The mailer says: “ELECTION ALERT: VOTER VIOLATION,” “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED,” and adds, “You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.” Here's what the mailer looked like:

Cruz refused to apologize, stating, “I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote.”

The Rubio campaign sent out its own version of the voter violation notice:

Worth noting: Democrats have used similar tactics for years, as The Washington Post points out. If you’ve ever received junk mail before that looks somewhat like an official paper, this should have been no surprise to you. But Trump is trying to spin it into a case that Cruz tried to imply that it would be illegal not to vote for him. That’s patently ridiculous.

Cruz Lied About Trump's Views of Obamacare and "Choice." Trump says abortion isn't murder, and that he is for "caveats." He also says he only became pro-life because a friend of his didn't have an abortion and her child was a "total superstar." As far as Obamacare, Trump says he'll repeal and replace it. He also says he's in favor of single-payer healthcare, but not in favor of single-payer healthcare. He said this last week: "I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now." He then said that Republicans have no heart when it comes to healthcare.

So, what is Trump thinking? He’s thinking that if he puts Cruz on the defensive over Iowa, Cruz will have to spend all his media time this week defending his “nefarious” activities there instead of pushing forward in New Hampshire. He’s also making excuses to his supporters for why he lost. There are theories that Trump is even building a case for dropping out of the race altogether or running third party, claiming that he was cheated out of his rightful victory.

Anything is possible. After all, this is The Donald, and as he once tweeted:

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