Quick Takes

* Josh Marshall has written his take on what Trump is accomplishing by skipping tonights Republican debate. It basically comes down to what I wrote the other day about showing off his “testicular fortitude.”

Pundits and political obsessives tend to get distracted by process and policy literalism. But politics generally and especially intra-Republican political battles are really about demonstrating dominance – not policy mastery or polling leads but a series of symbols and actions that mark the dominating from the dominated.

* As the rest of the pundit world obsesses over the coming caucuses in Iowa, Michael Cohen rejects conventional wisdom to write: What Happens in Iowa…Doesn’t Matter.

It’s not that what happens in Iowa won’t affect the trajectory of the race; it very well might. But more likely than not, Iowa’s caucus results will only hasten — or delay — outcomes that appear already baked into the race.

* Speaking of bucking conventional wisdom, Aaron Blake uses data from the latest WaPo/ABC poll to say that the electorate really isn’t all that angry.

Donald Trump is angry. Bernie Sanders is angry. And Americans think their neighbors are very angry, too.

Except that they’re simply not — or at least, not abnormally angry. Despite the rise of two candidates who have embraced the idea of anger, our country simply isn’t unusually angry about how things are going in Washington.

The key to understanding what’s going on here might be that part about how “Americans think their neighbors are angry.”

* David Wasserman and the folks at The Cook Political Report have run some numbers on the Democratic delegate math. Here is their conclusion.

The key takeaway from our model below: in order for Sanders to be “on track” to break even in pledged delegates nationally, he wouldn’t just need to win Iowa and New Hampshire by a hair. He would need to win 70 percent of Iowa’s delegates and 63 percent of New Hampshire’s delegates.

* Finally, in a move that completely underscores what I wrote about the Sanders campaign earlier today, here is their latest ad titled, “The Problem.”

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.