This post has been updated.
The unexpected sense of generosity that marked Donald Trump's concession speech in Iowa on Monday night began to fray during his speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday -- and appears to have evaporated completely, given what Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. By the end of his tirade against Ted Cruz's Iowa win, Trump suggested that new voting should be held.
Trump's initial tweet read:
Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he illegally stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong any why he got more votes than anticipated. Bad!
Notice that the word "and" is written as "any." Trump has a habit of deleting tweets with typos and then retweeting them, which he did in this case, too. But he also took out the word "illegally."
In the wake of Trump's second-place finish, at least one conspiracy theory spread among his fans -- but it centered on Marco Rubio, not Cruz. That theory was that Microsoft rigged its tabulation software to give Rubio a boost from Trump's votes. This theory made no sense.
In later tweets, Trump explained his rationale.
At a news conference prior to his speech in New Hampshire, Trump referred to Cruz's campaign having emailed voters during the caucuses implying that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race. That email was excoriated by Carson in his statement on Monday night, and Cruz's team copped to it on Tuesday. Given how Carson's support evaporated at the end of last year, there's no indicator that the email made much of a difference in the race; and Carson actually slightly over-performed his polling average. But, still, Trump lashed out at his main competitor.
"What he did to Ben Carson was terrible," he said, according to The Hill. "When they said Ben Carson is out of the race and come vote for him, I thought it was terrible."
There's no evidence at this point that the Cruz gambit on Carson gained him many votes. The final average of polls in Iowa put Carson at about 8 percent -- meaning he did better than polls would suggest.
As for the Cruz mailer, which we've discussed, the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza found that the voter scores printed on them (a tactic which studies have shown can spur turnout) were often misleading. In a report for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg reported that 3,000 voters who were unlikely to turn out received those mailers, suggesting that -- while perhaps deceptive -- the tactic didn't make a difference in a race Cruz won by more than 6,000 votes.
That appears to be a reference to this ad:
The ad is not from Cruz, but from a super PAC supporting the Texas senator. Nor does it say that Trump was in favor of Obamacare -- but it's certainly a tough hit.
Trump's last tweet (for now) was the biggest, the rhetorical equivalent of his strategy to wantonly bomb the Islamic State into submission.
There's no precedent for holding caucuses over again, and it's not clear how that would even work. It's likely that Trump's goal isn't to actually seek a new vote at all, but simply to cast doubt on Cruz's win -- something that his supporters, with their Rubio theory, beat him to by over a day.
After all, this is the guy who will make America sick of winning, he wins so much. When he loses, it seems, it's because the other guy cheated.