Scathing Purple Musings quoted Alan Goodman of The Victory Group earlier this week as saying that “Trump supporters, unlike backers of other candidates, have never had to show up to vote or make their voices heard on this level.” Goodman’s observation that many Trump voter in Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to be new voters and it is a step that Trump’s handlers will have to navigate. A former Trump aide tells Daily Beast reporter Tim Mak that it may be harder tan that.
And while the Trump team might argue that they can win based on bringing newcomers into the Iowa caucus process, there has been no dramatic increase in the number of registered Iowa voters. With just over a month until caucus day, the number of registered Republicans in Iowa (PDF) is roughly that which it was on caucus day in 2012 (PDF), (Sam) Nunberg said—meaning that while there has been an increase, it hasn’t been nearly large enough to back the Trump campaign’s argument.
Trump’s operatives in Iowa haven’t gotten their new voters registered. There are currently only 17 paid staffers on the ground in Iowa working for Trump right now. Nunberg has more:
“Mr. Trump’s real ceiling is going to be 20 percent on caucus day,” Nunberg predicted, based on what he called a “pessimistic” view of the facts. He pointed tothree live surveys of likely Republican voters, conducted by Monmouth, Loras, and the Des Moines Register in December, that show Trump losing to Cruz.
“He’s going to lose Iowa. Cruz will win Iowa,” Nunberg said. “Some of that Trump support will move over to Cruz in New Hampshire, once he loses. I then believe that, because Rubio will… consolidate a lot of that establishment support… he’ll surge at the end.”
Have Nunberg and Goodman given a subtle, insider’s glimpse at Marco Rubio’s path to the nomination? Trump’s savaging of Trey Gowdy after his endorsement of Marco Rubio had tactical value for South Carolina voters and pols. Was Trump trying to intimidate potential Rubio support emerging before Iowa and New Hampshire from popular Republicans like Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott and Sen. Lindsey Graham?
A twice-bloodied Trump’s support in South Carolina will collapse. After finishing out of the top three in the first three votes, only Jeb Bush may soldier on to Florida where he is now attempting to build a firewall.
A 2nd place result for Rubio in Iowa will impress New Hampshire establishment voters enough to give him the nod and it would set up a Cruz-Rubio showdown in South Carolina. But it won’t happen unless Trump stumbles in Iowa and the numbers say he just might.