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What the Iowa results mean for Minnesota’s GOP caucuses

In short, a big push by Cruz; an appeal to the establishment by Rubio; and a total lack of interest by Trump. 

Sen. Marco Rubio waving to supporters during his speech Monday night in Des Moines.
REUTERS/Dave Kaup

What do the Iowa caucus results mean for Minnesota’s Republican caucuses on March 1?

For Sen. Ted Cruz, Tuesday’s winner, it means digging in even deeper with old-fashioned, precinct-to-precinct, person-to-person organizing. “This is not going to be campaign he manages through the press and sophisticated marketing,” said Brandon Lerch, Cruz’s Minnesota campaign director. “We’re calling Lake of the Woods [County], we’re calling Rock County; we are hitting every single piece of this state, going full force in the metro as well. We want everybody in to hear from a Cruz supporter as to why he is the best candidate.”

Based on his success in Iowa, Cruz and his supporters are not likely to stray from the message that he is strict interpreter of the U.S. Constitution and a rock-solid Christian conservative opposed to abortion and gay marriage.

For Sen. Marco Rubio, fresh off a strong third-place finish, Iowa’s results mean further polishing his credentials as the candidate with the most appeal to the conservative mainstream. Part of that strategy involves continuing with the game plan of becoming the preferred candidate of those who initially pledged support to Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul or John Kasich. “The game comes down to the second choice — who are the survivors?” said former Republican house minority leader Marty Seifert, who’s now on the Rubio team.

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“He will definitely get a boost out of these next few primaries [New Hampshire and Nevada],” which will impress legislators who have run, won and will influence caucus turnout in their districts, Seifert predicted.

Rubio’s Iowa performance made a difference to at least one state Senator, Julie Rosen, of Vernon Center, who initially supported Chris Christie. “Rubio will be my choice,” she said. “And I’d appreciate if everybody would put their support toward him because he’s very electable.”

And then there’s Donald Trump – the elephant not in the state (to paraphrase Fox News’ Megyn Kelly). While Cruz, Rubio and Fiorina stay within the lines of traditional caucus campaigning, Trump has no formal state volunteers, no contact with the Minnesota Republican Party, and, reportedly, no success in hiring a state director who could put in place any of the above. 

He’s also unlikely to visit Minnesota before caucus day, another factor considered important to a strong caucus showing. Both the Cruz and Rubio campaigns have penciled in visits from the candidates at end of February.

Political observers agree, however, that Trump will nevertheless be a factor in the Minnesota caucuses, if only to motivate rival supporters to maximize their turnout efforts.