What We're Reading

Morning Reads: The Iowa Caucuses Are Over, and the Kochs Contemplate a War on Trump

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: The Kochs Contemplate a War on Trump

Alan Nelson, a Bernie Sanders caucus chairperson, speaks to undecided voters at a Democratic Party Caucus at Jackson Township Fire Station on February 1, 2016 in Keokuk, Iowa. (Photo credit: MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Iowa caucuses are over –> Ted Cruz won, and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders remain virtually tied this morning, with a few precincts still not fully reporting. One of the big surprises of the night was how close Republican Marco Rubio came to tying with Donald Trump for second — each won just under a quarter of the state. Another was that Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, once thought a long shot, nearly stole victory from Hillary Clinton with a campaign fueled by contributions that averaged $27 each. The night also saw record turnout, reflecting that the tumult of this election so far has captured the attention of many who don’t usually vote.

Martin O’Malley and Mike Huckabee suspended their campaigns. Others showed poorly but will stay in the race: Jeb Bush, who came in a distant fifth, spent $2,888 per vote, Andrew Perez and David Sirota write at IB Times, and his super PAC, Right to Rise, spent $25,000 per vote, Nate Silver notes on Twitter. Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich watched the caucuses from New Hampshire. The next nominating contest will be there, a week from today.

A big problem with the Iowa caucuses –> Emily Atkin at ThinkProgress: “The way it works is that anyone who wants to participate must present themselves at a specific location at 7 p.m. — if they’re late, they can’t get in… This time-specific, time-consuming process precludes thousands of working people across the state from being able to cast votes. Many argue that if Iowa had a regular voting process where polls were open all day, and absentee ballots could be cast, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

AND: Dylan Matthews at Vox: “A 2011 study by economists Brian Knight and Nathan Schiff found that caucus-goers in Iowa (and their counterparts in New Hampshire) carry the same influence in determining their party’s ultimate nominee as five voters from Super Tuesday states put together. So it’s concerning that the states selected to start the primary season, and wield this disproportionate influence, are among the least diverse in America.”

Establishment remains in trouble –> Rubio’s strong showing in third is a big deal for the establishment GOP — the folks who in past years lined up behind Mitt Romney. By picking Trump or Cruz, nearly half of Iowans signaled their discontent with the party, but Rubio is clearly still in the race as the strong, “moderate” favorite. “Even if they act expeditiously, though — even if Rubio parlays his performance into a big fundraising haul and a burst of endorsements — it’s unclear whether the party has the clout to force anyone out of the race, let alone to convince voters not to defect to Trump or Cruz,” writes Brian Beutler at New Republic. In fact, after last night, David Corn speculates at Mother Jonesboth parties may be “on the verge of hostile takeovers.”

Getting ready for battle –> Multiple outlets reported yesterday that at a weekend, private donor confab in the California desert, the Kochs’ donor network was lining up hundreds of millions to take control of the Republican party. And they remain deeply concerned about Trump. The Hill‘s Jonathan Swan writes, “On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Koch network officials revealed… that they had commissioned focus group research to identify Trump’s vulnerabilities.”

But not just yet –> “The Kochs’ political network and its members were reluctant to do anything that might cause [Trump] to launch a third-party bid, sources said this weekend. Also, there was concern that attacks from the Koch brothers and their allies could have potentially added to Trump’s momentum and his populist appeal with the GOP base,” reports Tarini Parti at Buzzfeed.

So long, O’Malley –> At Vox, Matt Yglesias eulogizes Martin O’Malley’s ill-fated bid for the presidency: “It’s worth dwelling for a moment on the extent to which, by conventional terms, it was O’Malley who seemed like the most solid candidate in the race. Unlike Clinton, he’s been a fairly consistent liberal throughout his career. And unlike Sanders, he’s been a fairly mainstream Democrat throughout his career.”

Another gruesome Boko Haram attack –> Jane Onyanga-Omara at USA Today: “Members of the radical Islamist group Boko Haram burned children alive as part of an assault in Nigeria that killed 86 people, a survivor of the attack alleged. The incident happened Saturday night in the village of Dalori in northeastern Nigeria. Two nearby camps housing 25,000 people who have fled Boko Haram were also attacked.”

Public health threat –> The Atlantic‘s Krishnadev Calamur: “The World Health Organization has labeled the Zika virus a public-health emergency of international concern — a classification that will result in a global response to the virus that has been linked to certain birth defects. Such a designation, which was made Monday in Geneva, is rare. The WHO previously declared it during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009; the Ebola outbreak in 2014; and for the resurgence of polio in Syria that same year. But Zika’s quick spread to the Americas has many health experts worried.”

Hopeful words on climate change –> Paul Krugman at The New York Times: “I’d argue that the kind of progress now within reach could produce a tipping point, in the right direction… Salvation from climate catastrophe is, in short, something we can realistically hope to see happen, with no political miracle necessary. But failure is also a very real possibility. Everything is hanging in the balance.”

No complaining about your commute –> As of last night, at least 100,000 travelers en route to Chinese New Year celebrations were stuck at a railway station in Guangzhou.

Today’s Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

We produce a digest of money-and-politics news and the headlines every weekday. Sign up to receive these updates in your email inbox each morning.