Opinion: This could be a rumble

By John L. Micek

It’s so on.

Instead of a coronation, Democrat Hillary Clinton, the ultimate political insider, left Iowa last week in the middle of an honest-to-goodness campaign against a septuagenarian, self-described Democratic Socialist who’d promised his supporters a political revolution.

For Republicans, Donald Trump, the bloviating former reality TV star who boasted that voters would get so sick of winning with him that they’d beg for the occasional loss, found himself awkwardly trying to be gracious in defeat to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who speaks in the cadences of the pulpit and dresses in the suits of a mortician.

A defining Iowa win was considered critical for Clinton, who trails Sanders by an average of 18 points in New Hampshire, based on data compiled by RealClear Politics. The Granite State holds its primary today. In 2008, Clinton lost Iowa, and the race, to another charismatic outsider — Barack Obama. The Clinton camp tried to characterize Sanders’ strong Iowa showing as a one-off. But Sanders’ win highlights ongoing problems for Clinton, who’s faced questions about her honesty and trustworthiness over an email scandal that simply will not go away.

With just five percentage points separating them, Trump, Cruz and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida provided Republicans with an unexpected three-way race for the GOP crown heading into today’s vote.

A dead heat for the Democrats. A horse race for the GOP.

John L. Micek is a political journalist and opinion editor for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. You may email him at jmicek@pennlive.com.

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