Voters in Iowa upset the political wisdom last night by picking a weasel over a blowhard.
The success of Ted Cruz was in keeping with the suspension of political rules this campaign season. By all accounts, Cruz was on a downward slide in the weeks leading up to the caucuses. Ostensibly, the reason for Cruz’s decline was related to questions whether he was allowed to become president, since he was born in Canada. That feeble argument allowed the GOP establishment to pile onto Cruz, whom is universally loathed by party leaders. Meanwhile, support for Donald Trump — at least in polls — was growing.
But Cruz was running a very smart — and very homophobic — campaign in Iowa. He counted on the support of the state’s evangelicals, who turned out in record numbers for him. In his stump speech, Cruz called his supporters “the body of Christ,” which apparently resonated in a way that the rhetoric of a thrice-married casino magnate from New York could not.
Cruz also had the backing of the fringiest of the right wing fringe, amassing an impressive number of homophobes to back his campaign. Right up to the last minute, Cruz was playing on his antigay credentials, appearing at a rally with Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, who blasted marriage equality as “evil.”