Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio talk after a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Marco Rubio Turns Lemons Into Lemonade

Marco Rubio came in second in Iowa. Percentage-wise, he did come in behind Trump, but percentages do not matter. Delegates do. And Rubio, as I have been predicting since last week, came in second in Iowa. Given media coverage last night, however, you’d think Rubio had walked away with first place. Just look at how Reuters reported the Rubio loss.

Remember, Rubio lost Iowa last night.

But in losing Iowa, Rubio performed like a winner. He was the first candidate to speak last night and he gave a masterful, short, positive speech. He did it while New Hampshire was still in prime time. He sounded every bit the winner.

Last night on Twitter I noted that if the media had voted in Iowa last night, Rubio would have had 85% of the vote by 10pm. The media, throughout the night, gave effusive praise to Rubio’s effort. Marcomentum was the subject of the evening well after it became apparent Cruz had won and won decisively.

Rubio’s campaign made sure to roll out news of Tim Scott’s pending endorsement in South Carolina as it was becoming apparent that Cruz would win. The media ate it up. Even into the news cycle this morning, the media was playing an expectations game in New Hampshire based on Rubio’s surge, not Cruz’s victory.

All of this is to Rubio’s credit. In an era when candidates worry about peaking too soon, Rubio never peaked. He lost Iowa. But he lost it while outperforming polling, growing crowds, and he now puts himself in a position to declare himself the alternative to the outsiders.

Bush, Kasich, Christie, and Fiorina voters in New Hampshire are going to have to look on the results in Iowa and Rubio’s surge then ask if they want to stay with their guys or go to Rubio.

Last night, as the results were coming in, a donor to one of the Bush Super PAC efforts emailed me. His email said simply, “Rubio! Rubio! Rubio!”

I think Rubio is about to see more of that. While Cruz battles with Trump for outsider status, Rubio now has the potential to turn his loss in Iowa into renewed Marcomentum.

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Erick Erickson

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