As Cruz kept an almost singular focus on Iowa, he has gone two months between New Hampshire visits. Other candidates such as John Kasich, Chris Christie and Bush have decamped to New Hampshire and still can’t break out of the pack of candidates clustered around second place.
Yet there’s the question of history; a Cruz win in Iowa might actually hurt his odds in New Hampshire. Among Republicans, there is a flinty sense of pride that New Hampshire does not ratify Iowa’s picks. In 2012, Santorum won Iowa and Mitt Romney won New Hampshire. In 2008, Huckabee won Iowa and John McCain won New Hampshire. In 2000, George W. Bush won Iowa and McCain claimed victory in New Hampshire. In 1996, Bob Dole won Iowa and Pat Buchanan won New Hampshire.
Cruz is not deterred and may be right in his analysis. This GOP primary has defied previous campaign patterns. Cruz is consistently tied for second place in polls in New Hampshire and ahead of Trump in some Iowa polls. So why is Cruz doing well at this moment? Part of it is his larger-than-life personality. Part of it is his constant appearances in conservative media and the flock he has nurtured there. Some of it is his talent as a speaker and his ability to read what voters want. And that’s not an insignificant talent.