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The Rise of Cruz in Iowa Explained

In the most recent Quinnipiac Iowa poll, Senator Ted Cruz surprised analysts by coming in second to Donald Trump with 23% of likely caucus goers support. The ascendancy of Cruz in Iowa can be contributed to two primary factors. First, that Rubio and Carson supporters are not securely in the tent for those candidates. Secondly, the terror attacks in Paris and the return of foreign policy to the forefront of the campaign. Ted Cruz, having refused to attack his fellow candidates, has not angered those who currently have different favorites, nor has he done anything to hurt anyone’s favorite candidate in the polls. Senator Cruz has stayed above the fray and run an extraordinarily disciplined messaging campaign. Cruz does not go off topic. Cruz is not taken by surprise. Cruz does not make mistakes. So as other candidates, running less disciplined campaigns, make their mistakes, Senator Cruz is there to pick up their votes.

cruz2The top five candidates in Iowa are Donald Trump (25%), Ted Cruz (23%), Ben Carson (18%), Marco Rubio (13%), and Rand Paul (5%). Of the top four candidates, their supporters were asked “(If candidate chosen q1) Is your mind made up, or do you think you might change your mind before the caucus?” Donald Trump boasts the most certainty amongst his supporters with 51% saying that their minds are made up and only 48% saying that their minds could be changed. Ted Cruz comes in second with 41% saying that their minds are made up and 58% saying their minds could be changed. Both Trump and Cruz have built a large number of secured support and we haven’t even gotten into the thick of the campaign season (January/February).

Rubio and Carson, however, do not have a secure hold on their supporters. 33% of Ben Carson supporters say that their minds are made up and 65% say their minds could be changed. Rubio’s numbers are far worse. Only 22% of Rubio supporters say their minds are made up, while an astonishing 78% of people polled, who said they support Senator Rubio, say their minds could be changed. This is great new for the Cruz Campaign for 2 specific reasons.

First, of those who say they support Ben Carson, 18% consider themselves Tea Party, 18% consider themselves Very Conservative, and 24% consider themselves Evangelical. That means that 60% of Carson’s voters could easily fall into the Cruz camp, based on ideological agreement. Senator Marco Rubio, however, holds sway over fewer ideological allies. 5% consider themselves Tea Party, 8% consider themselves Very Conservative, and 6% consider themselves Evangelical, which means only 19% of Rubio Voters are likely to switch over to Cruz. However, remember that 78% of Rubio voters aren’t committed. What if ideological lines weren’t the only factor in the race?

Senator Cruz’s jump in the polls coincides with a jump in voters’ perception of the candidates on the issues. Recent terror attacks have brought foreign policy back to the forefront of people’s minds. Ted Cruz leads Trump, Carson, Rubio, and Paul when voters were asked who they thought was the best candidate on foreign policy. Ted Cruz received 24%, Donald Trump 18%, Marco Rubio 15%, and Ben Carson and Rand Paul each received 6%. Interestingly, it would appear that Cruz’s rise in the polls and Carson’s decline, was directly the result of the fact that Cruz is viewed as being the best on foreign policy and Carson, not so much. When asked about terrorism in particular, Trump still leads Cruz. Also, when it comes to the question of who is a “strong leader”, Trump continues to lead there as well. This is why Trumps numbers remain solid.

Another area of this poll that is particularly instructive, is the favorability of the candidates. When asked if there were any candidates likely caucus goers would NOT support, we see Ted Cruz with a huge advantage. Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich have the highest number of people who are absolutely resolute that they do not support them. 26% say the absolutely would not support Jeb Bush. 23% say they would not support Donald Trump, and 19% say they would not support John Kasich.

If you’ve been hearing folks talk about the inevitably of a Cruz/Rubio showdown, the numbers I’m about to share with you are the reason why. Only 5% (the lowest number polled) of caucus goers say they would not support Senator Ted Cruz. In second place? Senator Marco Rubio with only 7% saying they would not support Rubio. Which means, Cruz and Rubio are likely to pick up everyone else’s votes as they drop out of the race. Donald Trump isn’t going to gain votes, but it is also very unlikely that his supporters abandon him. Which means that while Trump will hover in the upper 20% range, as other candidates drop out, Senators Cruz and Rubio will continue to rise, with each of them likely surpassing Donald Trump by February.

About Steven Brodie Tucker

Graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Also studied economics and political science at George Mason.

4 Responses to “The Rise of Cruz in Iowa Explained”

  1. robert shannon

    Excellent analysis Steve. If their is anything to add it is that national security for obvious reasons will dominate this election. I said as much over a year ago. Discerning voters understand all too well the jackpot this administration has put our nation in. History will not be kind to President Obama.

    That plays well for Cruz. Your point that he has stayed above the fray only helps him in that he will be seen as a thoughtful deliberate cool hand, something that Goldwater did not do well, allowing his opposition to paint him as a reckless figure. This calm demeanor will also allow for the party to unite around him should he be the nominee, he has avoided the error in making enemies during the nomination process.

    As a final note watching him debate Clinton will be a true delight.

    Bob Shannon

  2. Mark Latham says:

    No one named Marco Rubio or Rafael Edward Cruz ( both sons of Cuban immigrants) or Jeb Bush is going to build a wall on the Mexican Border, deport illegals, decrease visas, stop the GOP platform of Amnesty for an estimated 40 Million Illegals in the US, or round up Mexican Gangs terrorizing American cities and filling American prisons and flooding this country with drugs like Heroin and bringing infectious diseases like tuberculosis and whooping cough to this country.

    This is why Trump is polling “number one.” The Working Middle Class voters “understand why America is circling the drain” and it has GOP stamped on it.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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