Although it feels like it has been going on for nearly 250 million years, today officially kicks off the 2016 presidential primary. The first votes will be cast (but not really) in the Iowa caucuses this evening beginning at 7 pm Central. Voters will hear each candidate’s case from either the candidates themselves or their caucus chairs, then make their preference known.
Because of the personal nature of the caucus process, the results have been notoriously hard to predict by pollsters in the past. On the Republican side, all the polls have seen the recent Cruz bounce fade and return to a Trump lead, but the last few polls have the perpetual frontrunner up only +1.
In fact, of the top few Republicans, only Rubio actually has an upward trajectory in Iowa polling. He’s risen from an average of 10% to almost 17% in the last week or so, a trend that is eerily familiar.
In 2012, Rick Santorum polled in the single digits nationally for all of 2011 right up until the week before the Iowa caucuses. He would come out of nowhere to win the state on a combination of endless local campaigning, evangelical support, and a few key endorsements. Santorum went on to be the only significant challenge to Mitt Romney for the nomination, winning several other states and amassing a small share of the national delegates.