The New York Daily News headline said it all on Tuesday: “Dead Clown Walking,” with a picture of a moron Donald Trump with a clown’s red nose after his shocking defeat in Iowa.
Meanwhile, the New York Post led with “Cruzified,” with a glum and tired looking Trump staring off the page. For Post owner Rupert Murdoch, it was a long awaited take down of a hated rival who had dissed Murdoch’s Fox News and the final debate because of what he claimed was biased by panelist Megyn Kelly.
But back in Trump’s native city, the whoops of joy could be heard. Welcome to New York, where the one-time hometown hero and fawned over gossip magnet was reduced to tabloid titter as gleeful New Yorkers looked on.
Ashamed New Yorkers who knew Trump as a moderate Republican for decades with quite mainstream views were disgusted. However, according to the polls, the GOP followers had seemed to be eating it up.
But like the British election polls, the pollsters had it spectacularly wrong, showing Trump leading by an average of seven points heading into the Iowa caucuses.
Trump seemed to have defied the laws of political gravity, using only an air game, flying in on his Trump jet and speaking to big rallies, and no ground game which involved knocking on doors, making phone calls.
In contrast, Senator Ted Cruz was doing the very opposite, visiting all 99 of Iowa’s counties, putting a huge workforce on the ground and spending endless days in Iowa. Yet the polls showed him slipping.
But the result quickly proved that old ways were best.
The reality is that Iowans were not impressed by the aeronautics. The caucuses proved that there is a line between celebrity gawking and actual political support.
What many Iowans suspected was that Trump’s massive crowds were drawn by star-struck locals as much as political backing. Folks in Iowa don't meet many celebrities other than the John Deere tractor salesman.
Trump was a space oddity, a deus ex machina dropping from the skies on their cornfields and wheat fields, a magnificent man in a flying machine.
But he was too exotic a creature with too many flip flops for the homespun Iowa rural population which embraces their God and their guns in almost equal measure.
Of course Trump can still come roaring back, but the inevitability factor is now gone. Had he won Iowa and then New Hampshire he was likely unbeatable for the nomination. Senator Marco Rubio’s close third finally gives the establishment someone to wrap around with funding and support.
Defeat was never a word in Trump’s dictionary and it comes harder for him than any other candidate, given his obsession with winning.
He is now at the point where he needs badly to win in New Hampshire or the great cloak of inevitability will become a tattered garment.