Iowa Ground Game In The Home Stretch: Shoe Leather vs. The Show

With the latest polls in Iowa showing Donald Trump up between 2 and 7 points over Ted Cruz, the importance of a ground game and GOTV effort becomes more evident.

Here’s where the candidates are, and this reflects the size of their operations on the ground in Iowa. Note that all the candidates will be in Des Moines on the 28th for the Fox News GOP debate.


Today (26th), a 5 p.m. rally in Marshalltown and a 7:30 p.m. rally in Iowa City. He flies back to New York to sleep in his bed, and doesn’t return to Iowa until the 30th for a big rally in Davenport. On the 29th, Trump is in New Hampshire.

Trump can pull together a rally in practically any size arena and fill it, and bring staffers to the event with very little notice. All he needs is an airport. Notably, his GOTV online caucus-finder is smooth, easy to use, and very competently done. None of the other candidates have this feature (they should).

It’s yet to be seen how well this hands-off approach works, or if Trump has an out-of-state effort to move potential supporters on caucus day. But nothing works better than a knock on the door.


The man is indestructible. Cruz is making 7 stops today. On the 27th he has a big pro-life rally with Rick Perry in Clive, followed by a string of 5 appearances between Ringside and Wapello on Friday. No break on Saturday with another 5 appearances between Hubbard and Sioux City, capped by a rally with Rep. Steve King.

On Sunday the 31st, Cruz continues in Iowa with 3 events (I assume after church), starting in Iowa City and ending in Des Moines with a rally at the State Fair Grounds. Monday, Feb 1 has Cruz in Jefferson and Marion for a pre-caucus rally at Grace Baptist Church.

That’s a total of 23 events on Cruz’s calendar–far more than anyone else. Only a well-developed, committed team on the ground can support this kind of whistle-stop campaigning. You can be sure that Cruz volunteers and staffers are calling every single voter to remind them to get to the caucuses, telling them where their locations are, offering to help with transportation, child care or any other issues. Cruz will maximize his turnout.


Where’s Marco? He’s got 4 events today (26th) starting in Pella, going through Marshalltown before Trump gets there, and ending in Des Moines with a town hall at the Sheraton. On Wednesday (27th), Rubio has a rally at Wellman’s Pub and Rooftop, a few miles from the hotel.

And that’s it. After the debate, Rubio leaves Iowa, and heads (I don’t know where) somewhere. His website has no obvious links to “events” and even searching for “events” yields nothing useful. Rubio has no events in New Hampshire through Feb 2nd, so really, where is Marco?

Update: Rubio’s Communications Director, Alex Conant, tweeted that Rubio will remain in Iowa through the caucuses. Find the updated schedule here.


Just for comparisons’ sake, I added Carson in. He’s got one event tonight (26th) called REVIVE714 at Heritage Assembly of God in Des Moines. Then he’s gone. He’s not in New Hampshire; actually he goes to Denver for an organizational meeting, then back to Iowa for the debate. After that, he’s got nothing on the calendar until after the caucus, when he travels to California for a week.

Dr. Carson, do you know that there’s a primary in New Hampshire on Feb 9?


It’s going to be Trump vs. Cruz. Cruz is all in and will follow Reagan’s (and John Wayne’s) path to victory for GOTV. “There is no substitute for down-to-earth, house to house, person-to-person contact.” Shoe leather vs. The Show.

History is betting on shoe leather, but Trump may overturn everything.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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