I seem to recall that just the other day I was saying that with the arrival of Thanksgiving week we were entering the political “dead zone” of the holidays where presidential races begin to stagnate until New Years. Looking at this morning’s news, perhaps I should switch over to predicting football games for a living. (Oh, wait… I’m terrible at that, too.) The new Iowa numbers from Quinnipiac came out of embargo a couple of hours ago and there’s been some motion. Okay… some big motion. And the news of the day on the political front is going to be Ted Cruz. (Politico)
Ted Cruz, buoyed by tea party support and the backing of the conservative wing of the Republican Party, has surged to a virtual tie with Donald Trump in the first caucus state of Iowa, according to the results of a Quinnipiac University poll surveying likely Republican caucus-goers released Tuesday.
Trump took 25 percent of support, followed by 23 percent who opted for the freshman Texas senator, more than doubling his support in the same poll from October, when he earned just 10 percent. Trailing the two leaders is Ben Carson, who dropped from first to third, falling 10 points to 18 percent.
The only other numbers of particular interest are those of Marco Rubio and Jeb! Bush. It’s true that Marco got a bump in the polls, but he’s still hanging back at a respectable 13% and he hasn’t moved much in the last couple of weeks. As for Bush, he actually managed to drop another point to 4% so it may be time to declare that original presumptive nominee has run out of rabbits to pull out of his hat. Cruz received the benefit of being endorsed by Iowa Congressman Steve King. (See edit below)
This move seems to be turning into a trend rather than a blip. The last CBS poll from Friday already had Cruz moving into a very solid second place behind Trump (30 to 21) and the Q-Poll numbers only solidify and continue the same arc.
Recent events in Paris and Syria seem to be driving the election cycle for now and that may explain a lot of what we’re seeing. First, it’s worth noting that while Trump is down a bit from two weeks ago, it’s not by much. Almost all of Cruz’s surge seems to have come at the expense of Ben Carson. Looking at national opinion polls regarding America’s view of Barack Obama’s dismal handling of ISIS and national concerns over Syrian refugees, should we really be surprised at who is doing well in Iowa? Trump and Cruz have been two of the strongest advocates for American strength in this crisis who have managed to do so without shooting themselves in the foot constantly. (Sorry, Dr. Carson.)
I’ve been waiting quite a while to see a big move by Cruz. His performances at each and every debate have been extremely solid and he’s looked (at least to me) like one of the most consistently presidential figures on the stage. Still, that didn’t seem to resonate with the public as all the attention remained focused on the Trump vs Carson battle. It may have taken a true moment of clear and present danger to the nation for the candidates to get a chance to strut their stuff and lay out their vision for protecting the nation. Cruz seems to have finally caught the attention of at least the Iowa voters in that regard.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s remember that Iowa is still just one state. Trump is currently owning pretty much the rest of the states where any serious polling is being done and the days of sweeping the field just by taking Iowa are over. We’ll need to see Cruz doing some serious upward movement in South Carolina and the SEC primary states before I get my hopes up too much on this count.
The original article was edited to reflect the fact that Ted Cruz, not Marco Rubio, received the endorsement of Steve King because the author is clearly showing signs of early onset dementia.