For example, last night, in Iowa, the reality is that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders came out with almost exactly the same number of delegates. And though Ted Cruz won on the Republican side, he didn't end up with appreciably more delegates than Donald Trump and Marco Rubio got. He got eight and they got seven.
Ben Carson got three and Rand Paul and Jeb Bush got one each. That's the reality. But the perception is something different. The perception is that Hillary and Cruz won, Bernie and Rubio did surprisingly well, and Trump lost. It will be interesting over coming days to see how those perceptions play out in either public opinion polls or New Hampshire results.
Speaking of polls, last night was pretty good proof that the vaunted media kind of sucks at polls, at least in Iowa.
On the Republican side, all the media polls missed the eventual winner, and most of them miscalculated the outcome for both Trump and Rubio by a factor of 50 percent. That fact drives the perception that Trump – whose popularity was misjudged in the positive – tanked, while Rubio – whose popularity was misjudged in the negative – surged.
The media got it wrong, so Trump looks like a loser and Rubio looks like a winner. Maybe that was accidental.
As to turnout, there were record numbers of caucus participants, at least on the Republican side. But the projection that the newcomers would primarily be Trump supporters proved to be incorrect, as they actually seemed to be evenly split between Trump, Cruz and Rubio.
On the Democrat side, increased turnout helped Sanders, but not enough to push him the last couple of inches past Clinton. A major part of his problem was that his supporters were largely young and Clinton's supporters were largely old, and old people always vote in higher percentages than young people.
Troublesome for Hillary is the fact that only 10 percent of young Democrats supported her, with the remaining 90 percent backing Sanders. That's a huge bellwether, if not for this caucus or election, then for the future of the Democrat Party.
Another interesting aspect of last night's caucus is the reality that 56 percent of conservative, white, Iowa Republicans voted for a black or Latino candidate. On the other hand, 100 percent of progressive Iowa Democrats voted for Caucasians.
You wonder if those chickens will ever come home to roost.
After the voting, Democrat Martin O'Malley prudently withdrew from the race. He should have done so months ago.
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee did the same thing. He cited "illness" – he smilingly said the voters were sick of him. A lot more Republicans should follow his example. Everyone below Ben Carson – fourth place at about 10 percent – should leave the race. They might be great people, but they are political deadwood, and distractions as the party selects a real candidate. Bush, Kasich, Paul, Christie, Fiorina, Santorum, Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, they all should go away.
And then we can see where those votes go. Do they bolster the Trump juggernaut, or do they pick Cruz or Rubio to push into the lead?
Only time and ego will tell.
But for another four years we are done with Iowa. And that's for the best. Because as beautiful a state as Iowa may be, and as important to our agricultural strength and national character, the slavish devotion to one tiny piece of a wonderfully large nation is insane. Iowa should be picking corn, not presidents.
Next Tuesday is New Hampshire, at the end of the month there will be South Carolina and Nevada, and then the crap gets real on March 1, when 15 states divvy up delegates.
Only time will tell what those voters and states decide. And only time will tell if Iowans accurately predicted what the rest of the county wants.