News & Politics

New Polls Suggests a Rubio Surge, But Is It Real?

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The two most recent Iowa polls show a definite surge in support for Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The Des Moines Register poll released on Sunday gives Rubio a 5-point boost — from 10% to 15% — over the previous poll taken in December. Today, the Emerson poll shows Rubio doing even better, surging 8 points from the previous poll on January 21, finishing a strong third with 22% of the vote. (Trump and Cruz are in a virtual dead heat).

One interesting note the Register poll was taken between January 26-29. The Emerson poll was conducted January 29-31. This suggests that the Rubio surge is real.

If Rubio coming on is a mirage, why is Ted Cruz targeting him in negative ads instead of Trump?

Jim Geraghty asked that question in his newsletter:

Reasons to think Marco Rubio will win or beat expectations:
1. See the Cruz campaign’s decision above. Why put all your resources into hitting Rubio if he’s really the distant third that the polling indicates? The Cruz camp must think that Rubio is at least a close third or maybe jumping ahead of Cruz, Trump, or both.
2. Momentum: About a week ago, Rubio was at 10.8 percent in the RealClearPolitics average in Iowa; now he’s 15.2 percent. No one else jumped that high, that fast.
3. As I put it Friday afternoon, “I don’t know if Marco Rubio has momentum in Iowa, but the talk that Marco Rubio has momentum in Iowa has picked up a lot of momentum.” Rubio only passed Ben Carson in mid-December and has been a distant third until very recently. If he’s even close to the top, he’ll dispel the talk that the GOP primary is a two-man race between Trump and Cruz, and any establishment-esque voice uncomfortable with both will have a viable third option.

There’s the case in favor of the notion of a Rubio surge. Also keep in mind that Rubio tops the field as the second choice for 20% of voters, which may prove more important in New Hampshire after, as expected, several candidates drop out after Iowa.

 But Geraghty makes some salient points that speak against a Rubio comeback.
Reasons to think Marco Rubio will lose or disappoint:
1. Doesn’t it feel like we’ve been hearing “Rubio is about to catch fire” all year long?
2. The best he’s done in any poll in the past year is 18 percent. If he’s hoping to pull off what Santorum did four years ago . . . does he seem like a Santorum-style candidate?
A Giant X-Factor: A blizzard is going to hit . . . but isn’t expected to hit until Tuesday morning.
It may be a combination of establishment smoke blowing about a Rubio surge and an actual, smaller movement in the polls. It would be a big surprise if Rubio cracked 20%. He would exceed expectations with a finish in the high teens.
The bottom line is that there is likely to be a surprise or two tonight. But no one can say what or who those surprises will be.