Yes, according to people close to Team Cruz, the birther attack has had a small but measurable impact on Cruz’s polling. The problem for the rest of the party is that more and more polling from multiple campaigns and Super PACs show the same. There is no stopping Trump after Iowa. Trump voters are only going to vote for Trump or Cruz. Cruz voters are only going to vote for Cruz or Trump. They make up more than fifty percent of the vote in Republican primaries around the nation right now. And Iowa is now very, very close.
Republicans in Washington are taking a real gamble on Trump. They hate Cruz enough that they are willing to cut a deal with Trump. That may be problematic for them given Trump’s history. But right now he has an unshakable coalition of pissed off voters ready to use Trump to throw the bums out. That Republicans in Washington think they can compromise with that anger is more proof they are out of touch with what is going on in the country.
I have talked now to several people from several campaigns and super PACs. They have all come to the same conclusion. Trump may not be beatable if he is not beaten in Iowa. One of the managers of a non-Cruz super PAC decided to hold fire against Cruz because his data shows attacking Cruz only helps Trump.
In Iowa, the race is close and I’m told that several campaigns are seeing internal polling looks very much like Quinnipiac’s polling that just came out. The race is exceedingly close between Trump and Cruz and Trump may have a very slight lead. In that case, it comes down to turn out. Cruz’s campaign is working overtime to identify caucus voters and get them to the caucuses on February 1st.
Every day that goes by, another campaign begins attacking Cruz. Millions are being spent to stop him right now. They have seventeen days to do it. They think they can take out Trump after Iowa. More and more data suggests otherwise, but right now the emotional angst over a Cruz nomination is clouding a lot of thinking and judgment.
Cruz has some potential firewalls coming up called debates. Those around him feel confident he can get some more standout moments in the debates that will help him. It was the CNBC debate that helped begin the Cruz momentum. Likewise, there is still the Carson factor. As Carson fades, his voters are looking around and a lot of them are finding a home with Cruz. But a number are also going to Rubio and Trump. In a close race, that split is going to matter significantly.
A consensus is shaping up internally with a number of the Super PACs and declining campaigns that it will be either Trump or Cruz. The Cruz campaign certainly believes it at this point based on their data. But they are now not alone. Other campaigns are starting to see the same in their data. Republicans are at a time for choosing.