The “establishment” presidential candidate who trails real estate mogul Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz is making a move in the Iowa Caucus polls. Conservative Florida Senator Marco Rubio has many Iowans and pundits looking for a surprising turnout at Monday’s caucus.
The Des Moines Register, Iowa Republicans and independent analysts considering their latest estimates of the most recent polls show Rubio is at the precipice, which means he is ready to break free from the second tier of contenders that include Ben Carson, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Doug Gross, who served as Iowa Finance Chairman for the campaigns of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney put it this way, “He easily has the greatest upside. Mainstream Republicans are not comfortable with Trump or Cruz, and the more I hear from them, the more they say they’ve decided on Rubio. He has the greatest potential and it’s driven by pragmatism, a desire to win, and angst with the two front-runners.”
Most polls clearly indicate the Iowa race is a two-man contest. Trump leads Cruz by a razor-thin margin according to the Gallup Poll. The New York mogul has a 31 percent share of the votes, while Ted Cruz is a not-so-distant second at 25 percent. But pundits warn that Iowa is known for producing late-surging candidates.
A look at the history of the Iowa Caucuses shows that in 2012, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) was polling in distant sixth place position less than a week before the caucuses. He ended up surprising almost everybody in the media coming out of nowhere to win.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee did a similar miracle in the 2008 caucuses. Like Santorum, he was given little chance of winning only to dramatically surge in the closing days.
Presently, two days before the caucus, less than half of Iowans have made up their minds on the candidate they will vote for. That leaves the door wide open for Marco Rubio to walk right through, according to a Monmouth University survey released this week. There is a feeling in the state that the Florida senator just may have a meaningful impact on the race.
For instance, Rubio has a rating that is four points higher in the RCP average. That sudden increase has happened in only the last week of campaigning. His best showing to date is only one week ago. An NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll released this week. He is at which is by far his showing in any survey of Iowa to date. That means Rubio at this late date is only seven points behind Cruz.
However all is not bright and shiny for Rubio. He faces deep skepticism from some quarters. He instigated ill feeling among many higher-up Republican lawmakers concerning his immigration reform, or better known as ‘The Gang of Eight.’
The Republican candidates know it is essential they hit as many counties in the state to spread their message to individuals, which are more important in a caucus than a primary. The Des Moines Register actually tracked campaign appearances. Cruz has held 140 events in the state over 53 days this cycle, more than anyone except for Santorum and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the last two winners of the Iowa caucuses. Rubio was a distant seventh with 92 events held over 45 days. The surging senator has tried very hard to prevent over-optimism. It may now pay off big time.