Yes, Donald Trump is blasting “Born in the U.S.A.” at his rallies. Yes, prominent Iowa officials won’t comment on whether the Canadian-born senator is a “natural born citizen.” And yes, the latest poll from the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics shows that Cruz has slipped in the polls amidst all the scrutiny that comes with being the front-runner in Iowa, maintaining a slim three-point lead over Trump.
But as the Register notes, Cruz’s favorability ratings among likely caucus-goers, at 76 percent, remains “sky high.” He is the second choice of more voters than any other candidate, justifying (for now, at least) his strategy of refraining to go hard at Trump. On the issues, the Register reports “that there’s not much GOP caucus-goers don’t like about Cruz.” And notably, the birther controversy is reportedly a “non-issue” for 83 percent of likely caucus-goers.
The birther issue could still have legs—17 percent isn’t a negligible amount. But as we head into the final stretch, it looks like Cruz’s strategy is paying off in a big way.