It is that personal attention, delivered at every one of his stops in the Hawkeye State — 96 events in the past 55 days — that Jindal hopes has laid the groundwork for bigger things. He is a candidate whom everyone seems to like, and though he remains an asterisk in national polls, his numbers have ticked up to their highest point yet in Iowa, the state on which he’s staked his campaign. He’s at 6 percent there in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Sunday, tied for fifth place with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Jindal has created an opening here. But to capitalize on it, he will need to find a way to catch fire, and it’s not clear if he’ll be able to conjure the organization, the money, and the big moment to make that happen.
“The people he presents to and the people he gets the chance to meet with, they all leave saying they really like him,” Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of the Family Leader, a social-conservarive political organization, tells National Review. “I hear ‘I like Bobby Jindal’ a lot.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by a number of Iowa Republicans, who say Jindal’s likability and strong appeal to social conservatives is earning him fans, if not full converts.
For now, that’s sufficient. Two weeks ago, Iowa GOP primary voters watched their onetime front-runner unravel and drop out, reaffirming just how unsettled and volatile voters’ preferences are at the moment. “All [Jindal] needs to do right now is be a lot of folks’ second choice and he could potentially be fine,” says Doug Gross, an adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012.