The ‘Magic Number’ That Could Decide Trump vs. Cruz in Iowa – National Review


Des Moines, Iowa — 135,000. That’s the “magic number” to watch Monday night as Republican caucus-goers gather around the Hawkeye State to choose their presidential nominee, according to data collected and analyzed by numerous GOP campaign officials.

Four years ago, a record-breaking number of Iowans — 121,503 — participated in the Republican caucuses. If turnout exceeds 135,000 this year, GOP insiders agree, it will be an indication that Donald Trump has attracted a significant number of new voters to the caucuses. And if the increase is even more drastic — say, upwards of 150,000, which some Republicans believe is possible — then Trump will likely win.

But if turnout is below 135,000, Iowa will be Ted Cruz’s to lose, for two reasons: Firstly, both public and internal polling shows that Cruz’s supporters are, by and large, veterans of the caucus process, meaning their support can be counted on no matter what. Secondly, the Cruz campaign has poured massive resources into a field operation to successfully identify, persuade, and recruit voters. Cruz’s team, with the help of advanced analytics and micro-targeting, has a very good idea of exactly who is going to show up and vote for them Monday night.

The same cannot be said for Trump. The question of whether the enthusiasm for his candidacy will translate into caucus attendance has loomed over Iowa’s campaign for months. Republicans here have watched closely for signs of increased voter registration, but a report from the secretary of state’s office on Thursday confirmed that there has not been any meaningful spike in the GOP voter rolls — registration is up by nearly 3,000, but the total number is nearly identical to what it was in January 2012. (It’s worth noting that voters can still register at their caucus precincts on Monday.) “Ted Cruz’s support is going to be there,” says Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann. The same can’t necessarily be said for Trump supporters, he adds, “because they don’t have a caucus history.”

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