Iowans are mad as hell, and they know who to turn to — Donald Trump.
Outsider candidates have a history of gaining traction among Hawkeye State GOP caucus-goers fed up with Washington and establishment candidates more broadly. The Iowa agitation was loud and clear in the CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday showing Donald Trump soaring with voters, despite a slew of highly controversial remarks made in the past few weeks, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, another political outsider, coming in second.
“It is ridiculously early, but there’s no question that Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson, they’ve struck a nerve with Iowans who are unhappy with what they have seen coming out of Washington in recent years,” said Matt Strawn, the former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. “Whether they are momentarily voicing their frustrations through nontraditional candidates or will ultimately caucus for them are two very different things, and the answer to that will come down the road.”
The Trump boom is playing out across the country as the bombastic businessman and slayer of political correctness continues to lead national polls. For many conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere, there’s the sense that even after electing a Republican Senate last cycle, giving the GOP control of both chambers of Congress, little has changed — and some are venting by aligning with Trump, who has no compunctions about railing against Washington and the political establishment, and to a lesser extent with Carson, who has never worked in politics.
In Iowa, the anger Trump is channeling starts at the local level and goes all the way to the top, said Sam Clovis, a prominent conservative Iowa college professor who is chairing Rick Perry’s Iowa effort, but stressed he was speaking as an academic. He said that the state has taken a more populist turn amid national debates over the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and trade bills — which “smack of crony capitalism” to the base, he said — and noted that some are still smarting from a vote some Republicans in the statehouse took earlier this year to back a gasoline tax.