Sen. Marco Rubio has chosen a risky, and controversial, presidential primary strategy in early voting Iowa — investing in TV ads rather than the traditional "retail politics" of personal face-time and multiple campaign offices, analysts say.
The website FiveThirtyEight
writes political science research shows "Rubio avoids the establishment of a ground game at his peril."
"Field offices work because they provide a location for the coordination and training that make voter contact valuable," the website's Joshua Darr writes, adding that "knocking on doors can increase turnout by nearly 10 percent . . . Without a field office in an area, candidates will find it much more difficult to translate these tactics into victory."
The National Review
reports Rubio has rarely left the Des Moines area for campaign events, and "Republicans have taken to joking that he is running for mayor of Ankeny," the suburb where his state headquarters is located.
"February 1 will validate either Rubio's strategy or the case his critics are making, with enormous implications for how future presidential campaigns approach Iowa," the magazine writes.
One of those critics has been influential Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who has endorsed Rubio rival Sen. Ted Cruz, The Week
"He did all the big cattle calls, but he didn't put in the work on the ground either prior or post those events," Deace tells The Washington Post.
"I think his team had a skewed view of Iowa based on their involvement with [now-senator] Joni Ernst last year, and how they helped her win her primary. But this is a caucus, not a primary, which requires months of relationship-building that he never did."
But Bloomberg View
columnist Jonathan Bernstein notes Rubio's campaign may be making the case for the relative unimportance of primaries and caucuses compared with the support of "national party actors who decide nominations."
"Of course, those endorsements must eventually translate into accumulating delegates state by state, which means winning voter support," Bernstein writes. "But the more 'the party decides,' the less Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina determine the nominee. … but I'm still not sure I'd advise a candidate to take this gamble."
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