Last week a story by Katie Glueck of POLITICO ran a piece declaring that a quarter of GOP “insiders” in Iowa said that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is the next candidate to quit. Several articles were later written echoing that “news.”
If you were to go through the list of “insiders” listed by Glueck, for most of the Republicans on the list you can find a connection to a campaign or a branch of the party not inclined to support a candidate like Jindal.
I’m not ready to declare his candidacy dead, and, unlike many of the insiders listed in Glueck’s article, I’ve attended many of his town halls and campaign events and have spoken to the candidate as well as his staff on numerous occasions.
That story was also news to Jindal, who told me last Friday he plans to stay in the race beyond the Iowa Caucus. He said his campaign has incurred no debt, they are lean, and he believes they are getting some traction in the First in the Nation Caucus state.
The Independent Journal points out Jindal’s “lean and mean” campaign in Iowa. They have a paid staff of five individuals in Iowa — essentially, this is his “national” staff who are practically living here.
The campaign claims 662 volunteers in Iowa. It’s something they haven’t promoted.
I wrote at The Pulse 2016 last week:
Why did Huckabee win in 2008? He had the organization that Romney didn’t.
When I say organization, I don’t mean a long list of names but, rather, people who will actually work for you. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a long list of names, but he didn’t have an organization, and now he’s out. Who are the work horses in Iowa?
Santorum finished his 99-county tour and is quietly building an organization. According to the Des Moines Register’s candidate tracker, since 2012 he has spent 55 days in the state attending 148 events. Huckabee is also committed to hitting every county in Iowa. He has a group of grassroots activists who are active. He is currently third as far as having a presence in Iowa. He has attended 83 events over 38 days.
Jindal trails Santorum in terms of time in the state. He has spent 49 days in Iowa and has participated in 85 events. Where Jindal stands in terms of organization is unclear.
Jindal’s organization has become a little more clear. Having over 600 volunteers, provided they are not just names on a list, is pretty big, and Jindal has a bigger organization than anyone thought.
What he lacks is Iowa GOP insiders. His strategist, Curt Anderson, called those consultants “train robbers” who “extract crazy amounts of money from campaigns.”
I can’t really argue with that, but then again, I’ve never been a campaign consultant. Whether Jindal has Iowa insiders on his paid staff or not is irrelevant, as his strategy is sound. He’s making his way across Iowa. He’s scheduled to hit all 99 counties through town hall meetings hosted by the Believe Again PAC or meet and greets scheduled by his campaign. He is focused on retail politics — meeting Iowans, answering questions, and getting around the state.
His Super PAC has also spent more money on ads than any other candidate at $1.6 million.
Retail politics, a large volunteer base, and focused advertising makes for a good strategy in Iowa to get Iowans out on caucus night.
FiveThirtyEight notes that his favorability rating is something that should be considered:
And beneath the headline horse-race numbers, Jindal is making noise. His net favorability rating (favorable minus unfavorable) among Iowa Republicans is fourth-best in the GOP field, according to an average of the three live-interview polls conducted over the last month (by the Des Moines Register, Loras College and Quinnipiac University).
Note that the only three candidates with a higher net favorability average (Carson, Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio) are all in the top five in the Real Clear Politics Iowa average. Carson and Fiorina, in particular, have seen their numbers surge recently. In an average of the Loras and Quinnipiac polls, only Carson and Huckabee had a higher net favorability than Jindal among voters who identified as born-again or evangelical Christians (the Des Moines Register poll did not publish results for that group).
Jindal is well positioned to be a surprise candidate in Iowa.