You might remember that, a few weeks back, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was riding high in the Iowa Republican presidential polls when national frontrunner Donald Trump began to press the attack on Cruz’s eligibility to run for president based on his foreign birthplace. Cruz was still trying to play best frenemies back then, and reacted by tweeting a “clever” pop culture reference:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 5, 2016
Well, it turns out Cruz was only half-right. There was a shark-jump going on, but it looked more like this:
According to a new set of polls taken since the Cruz birther narrative flourished, Donald Trump is pulling away from Ted Cruz in Iowa. The latest Fox News poll shows Trump at 34% to Cruz’s 23%, an eleven point gain for Trump and a four point decline for Cruz since the last Fox News poll, which was taken while Cruz was sending his witty shark-jumping tweet. The last CBS News/YouGov poll, taken in December, had Cruz leading Trump in Iowa 40% to 31%. This week, it has Trump up over Cruz, 39% to 34%. When Cruz sent that tweet, he was leading Iowa in the RCP polling average 31% to 27.4% for Trump. Today, Trump leads the average by five points.
That massive swing, in only a few weeks, is at least partially due to the onslaught of doubts about Cruz’s eligibility, as well as the underlying foreigner connotations, but Marco Rubio has also been working Cruz’s body on immigration, a strategy that Trump adopted for his first official attack ad. It’s difficult to prove this, but I’m tempted to give most of the credit to Trump’s knockout punch at the debate over “New York values” and 9/11. Trump was on the wrong side of that culturally, for Iowa, but his ability to project the impression that he will beat doown anyone who gets in his way is a stronger selling point than the quaintness of Iowa values.
With these new poll results, and a mere week before voting in Iowa begins, the question I asked about Trump back in July still stands: what can stop him?
cross-posted from Mediaite