Timing Is Everything: Huckabee and Cruz’s Touring Strategies
In the context of trying to run a successful presidential campaign, timing is everything. With the Iowa caucuses only several weeks away, many of the presidential candidates have spent their energy tirelessly touring the ninety-nine counties of Iowa, while other candidates have given up on the caucuses and redirected their focus on New Hampshire.
Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee are two Republican candidates that have vied to capture the hearts and minds of Iowans, each engaging in his own lengthy bus tour, sweeping across the state. However, with Cruz still having countless events scheduled up until the caucuses and Huckabee with his incredibly expansive tour of Iowa nearing its end, the two candidates find themselves at two very different stages of the pre-caucus hustle.
My classmates and I were lucky enough to split into two groups on Thursday night, with half of us making the trek to Goldfield, Iowa to see Ted Cruz speak at the Old Schoolhouse there and the others attending a surprisingly brief Mike Huckabee event in Urbandale at his Iowa headquarters.
Ted Cruz gave a thorough, strong-willed, and invigorating speech to the 60 or 70 so people packed into the small gymnasium. There were nodding heads and involuntary “amen”‘s throughout his hour-long speech that recapped his principles and plans for the country. After Cruz closed the night with a scripture memorized from the Bible and reminding the attendees of the constitutional conservative values they all share, one could not help but notice the positivity and excitement that had come over the room full of Goldfield citizens. Strangely enough, Cruz spent no more than five minutes specifically speaking on the importance of going out to caucus for him.
This is quite different from the sort of event that Mike Huckabee put on at his Iowa headquarters the same evening. Several of my fellow classmates were in attendance that night, where Huckabee arrived nearly an hour late, only to speak for twenty minutes in what could be described as an extended call to action. While Huckabee placed the focus on the importance of attending the caucuses, the rather in-and-out style of event may have sent a miscommunication to those who were in attendance for the meet and greet. While Huckabee has undoubtedly held countless events as thorough and inspired as Cruz had put on that Thursday night, he is at a point in his tour now where many of the events are smaller scale and far less structured.
As I said, timing is everything, and with only weeks before thousands of Iowans step out to caucus, the two stages these candidates are at is rather reflective of their standing in the polls. Though Cruz and Huckabee have very similar platforms, each striving for the Christian vote, Senator Ted Cruz seems to be doing far better than Huckabee in the polls and has received many more donations. One cannot help but think that perhaps Huckabee began his tour too soon.
Now that it really has gotten to be crunch time for candidates to secure voters for the upcoming Iowa caucuses, these next couple weeks are the perfect time to drive home one’s mission statement. To add, many people might be unaware of the points these two candidates are at in their tours over Iowa, and it could lead many to the false premise that Huckabee is favoring quantity of events over quality. This impression is simply created by the fact that Huckabee’s tour is just now beginning to slow after completing what is known as a “full Grassley”, where Huckabee was able to visit all 99 counties of Iowa leading up to the caucuses. But there is undoubtedly an argument for the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” mentality, where the one who is still emphatically driving home his plans for our country is the one who is going to get the support he was hoping for.
The stages of campaigning both Huckabee and Cruz are currently at may be shaping how the voter turnout will be in a few weeks, but as was stressed before, timing is everything and only time will tell if Huckabee’s fizzling tour de force will prove to be detrimental when it comes time for Iowans to caucus.
Marcus Loffredo, Veronica Jandura, Jingting Huang, Rocco Stefanini, and Kara Strickler all contributed to this post.