It was a tough campaign in the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump swapped polling leads going into the last week. Marco Rubio sat in third place, and that’s exactly where he finished. And yet, despite the fact that Cruz pulled in a record number of votes, the media and pundits seemed to declare Rubio the winner.
Douglas Schoen, writing on FoxNews.com, warns that after Iowa, “keep your eye on Marco Rubio, not Trump or Cruz.”
Despite Cruz coming back from trailing Trump in Iowa, Schoen notes:
It’s actually more important to take note of how well Marco Rubio did on Monday evening.
He came into the Iowa caucus with 16 percent of the vote and he managed to pull in a remarkable 23 percent — just one point shy of Trump. He did this while being the subject of relentless attack ads by Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz supported Super PACs, the most scarring – or meant to be the most scarring – of which painted him as the Republican Barack Obama.
Interesting that nothing is mentioned of the fact that Cruz faced opposition from Iowa’s own governor for being the only one brave enough to speak out against corporate welfare. Nothing was mentioned that without Trump at the last debate, Cruz became the focus of attack. And yet, he came back to not only win, but win big.
National Review has a posting on their front page by Alexis Levinson titled “The Rubio Comeback.” Comeback? How does one comeback from starting out in third and finishing third?
Rubio was the first of the top three candidates to speak on caucus night, delivering his speech within a half hour of the results’ being declared. He monopolized the airwaves and got going early enough to ensure that his whole speech aired, helping to cement the narrative that he had a victory in Iowa, alongside the one that was officially declared for Cruz.
It’s true that Rubio finished higher than his polling, but thrown into that mix was the fact that Trump skipped the last debate. If this caused some supporters to bail out, Rubio seems like a likely landspot for some of them. A Trump decline will naturally benefit Cruz and Rubio.
The pundits on Fox News were gushing all night over Rubio’s “win.” Cruz and Trump — those guys who finished first and second — were not nearly painted in the same kind of light.
What do you think? Do you think that exceeding expectations was enough to warrant the excessive coverage? Do you think the establishment media, seeing the fall of Bush, Kasich, etc., went “all in” for Rubio on Monday night?