Marco Rubio dips in the polls heading into Christmas

Rubio’s polling woes come despite four widely-praised debate performances and amid a polling collapse of the candidate who had been seen as his chief rival for the mainstream establishment vote, fellow Floridian Jeb Bush, a onetime ally. Bush places well outside the top four nationally and lags in New Hampshire. A recent CBS News poll in New Hampshire found Rubio in third with 13 percent, behind Trump’s 32 percent and Cruz’s 14 percent. In Iowa, recent polls say Rubio is a distant third…

Rubio advisers spent the summer and fall consistently downplaying the importance of polls, stressing that they are playing a long game, though declining to publicly discuss their strategy. His top aide has sought to keep expectations low, arguing that he’d like Rubio to be behind in polls until the polls that count open.

“The day before makes me nervous. I’d like it just the day of,” Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan said in an interview last month. “I want to be in second place up until the day we win in Iowa, and then still remain in second place in New Hampshire until that day. Look, there’s nothing good that comes out of being in first place other than winning.”