Emily is a senior from Charlotte, NC double majoring in Political Science and Spanish.This summer, she worked at the Department of Justice in the Office of International Affairs. Additionally, she was the Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Latin American Public Opinion Project here at Vanderbilt. She is interested in international politics and American foreign policy. This year, she is serving as the Managing Editor for VPR.
For Donald Trump, the Iowa caucus was an unwelcome loss to his fellow Republican contender for the party nomination, Ted Cruz. Still, the Iowa caucus results are less than stellar in terms of having predictive power over the eventual nominee—especially for the Republican Party. According to a post by ABC News, the Republican “winner of the caucuses has gained the nomination [only] twice in six contested races since 1980: Robert Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000.” Iowan Democrats, on the other hand, appear to possess a much better predictive force for the eventual winner of the Democratic nomination than their GOP counterparts. Is all of this to say that Donald Trump should not be so torn apart by his loss in Iowa, the first state primary election of the season? Maybe so, but maybe not. It’s still a little early to tell.
While Trump still leads in the national polls by a significant margin, according to RealClearPolitics, another factor could either help or hurt Trump in the primary elections to come. Sure, Trump’s reported 35.8% support to Cruz’s 19.6% is no small lead—in fact, it seems quite large. However, there now exists another factor in the mix. Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump’s candidacy adds an interesting element to the campaign. As a potentially polarizing figure, as demonstrated by a recent editorial in The Hill regarding Palin’s recent endorsement, Sarah Palin may not be the kind of support that Trump needs to recover from a loss in Iowa. Even if the Iowa caucus results for the Republican Party are not predictive of the eventual party nominee winner, Sarah Palin’s endorsement could signify the further dramatizing of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, for the New York Times even laments the lack of credibility that Sarah Palin poses as an endorser: “Mrs. Palin could amplify the news media-circus aspects of Mr. Trump’s candidacy: She too is a reality television star accustomed to playing to the cameras and often accused of emphasizing flash over substance.”
Of course, an alternative argument could be made that the core of Donald Trump’s campaign—and that off of which his supporters feed—is the clear challenge to the Washington establishment that he poses as a complete political outsider. Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump might just augment the sense that Trump is a figure with the “rogue,” to quote the New York Times article, tendencies that Americans fed up with establishment politics love. In any case, the fact that Donald Trump and Sarah Palin are now conjoined forces, both of whom engender strong feelings of like and dislike from the electorate, will serve as an interesting factor to analyze as the rest of the state primary elections take place over the next few months. Whether or not Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump helps or hurts him, adding to the drama that Trump supporters appear to like or erasing part of his credibility, is a factor that merits analysis in the primary elections to come.
[Image Credit: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/politics/donald-trump-liberty-two-corinthians/]