Writing for San Francisco-based Sinema Blaze, this from Johnnie Lee:
As for Monday’s voting, Cruz campaign manager Jeff Rose said the organization’s figures show there are 9,131 Iowans choosing between Cruz and Trump, 2,807 choosing between Cruz and Rubio and 3,185 deciding between Cruz and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
Quite a get by Lee, these inside the Cruz campaign’s internals. Few have disputed Cruz’ data superiority in Iowa. These are likely good, but they are only Cruz’ numbers against top opponents.
Trump appears to be separating from Cruz. And with both Cruz and Carson trending downward, its worth remembering that all of their former support isn’t going to end up with Trump. Rubio is clearly ascending and is the most likely place for many traditional GOP voters to come home to after considering others. One key piece of data from the Des Moines Register last poll showed that Rubio (20%) led all candidates as voter’s second choice. Cruz was 2nd (17 %) and Trump (7%) a distant fourth. These subtleties may mean an awful lot over the last few hours.
Analysis of what damage, if any, Trump did to his standing with Iowa voters with his strange boycott of this week’s debate is difficult, although it’s hard to imagine how he gained republican voters. Despite a bad moment in the debate with FOX News’ Chris Wallace, Cruz took advantage of Trump’s absence and his trend downward is probably a false reading. But Rubio did well in the debate, too.
Rubio’s people have timed his upswing trend masterfully. With a 30-minute ad running tonight in Iowa and Florida supporters coming in to help on the ground, a last-minute stunner is possible. The notoriously wrong Iowa polls – if they are wrong again – may not be picking up Rubio’s surge.
Prediction here says Rubio finishes a razor-thin second to Cruz. Trump’s undisciplined petulance for FOX News hurts. Coupled with his weak Iowa ground game, its causes him to fall to third. Carly Fiorina finishes a surprising fourth and Ben Carson slides to 6th behind John Kasich.
Cruz benefited from the Trump meltdown, but it is Rubio who gains the most momentum going into New Hampshire. Carson, along with Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Jim Gilmore and Rick Santorum get out this week. The Trump personal melt down continues and he insults the same Iowans he was glowing over just days ago. Interest in Fiorina’s campaign intensifies and she ends up finishing ahead of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie in New Hampshire in 5th place just behind Trump and a combination of Rubio, Cruz and John Kasich.
The speed of the Trump collapse is stunning, yet was predicted by many observers. Traditional GOP voters in New Hampshire coalesce around other candidates after his 3rd place Iowa finish and it causes him to lose favored status with the media. Trump’s failure to establish professional political operations coupled with his personal abrasive behavior no longer pay well when he isn’t the front-runner. It wasn’t enough in the end to stage a Twitter campaign.
Bush, Cristie and Trump leave the race before South Carolina and a fascinating four-way race emerges between Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Fiorina which goes on through what the media describes as the SEC Primary on March 1.