Despite going into the Iowa caucus with a five-point lead, Trump narrowly lost to Ted Cruz at 24 percent to the latter’s 28. Speaking afterwards, Trump spoke of how “honored” he was to have come second place in Iowa with a surprising level of grace uncharacteristic of his signature bellicose nature, followed by an unnaturally long silence on social media. Yet anybody who thought Trump was changing up his tactics would be sorely disappointed. As of earlier today, Trump proved he was the same old Trump, using Twitter to accuse Cruz of voter fraud, saying that the only reason Cruz had gotten more votes than anticipated was because he had stolen the election. He then sent out five more tweets laying out why the voting results were wrong, and called for a re-do.
Trump’s argument was that Cruz had put out a release that Ben Carson was quitting the race. There had earlier been a report that Carson would take a detour from New Hampshire after Iowa and go to Florida instead, which some people took to mean Carson was suspending his campaign. The Cruz campaign then alerted its leaders to the tweet, yet neglected to send the follow-up tweet which clarified that Carson wasn’t actually suspending anything. While the Carson campaign had accepted an apology from the Cruz campaign, they nonetheless condemned what they called “shameless tactics & dirty political plays”.
Trump has also accused Cruz of sending campaign mailers to Iowa voters designed to look like official documents and misleading Iowans about his own stance on the Affordable Care Act. He called for a new election or the nullification of the results showing Cruz as the winner.
It’s possible that Cruz had used some underhanded tactics to secure his victory of the caucus, yet it seems doubtful that Trump’s criticism of this has anything to do with fairness of the game. Most likely, the main reason he’s making a stink out of this is to harm Cruz in the aftermath of his loss. While Cruz had a major victory in Iowa, he’ll need to maintain this lead if he wants the presidential nomination in New Hampshire and beyond, and that could be difficult if Trump is constantly accusing him of playing dirty.