If Donald Trump doesn’t show up at the Republican debate on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, it might be enough to blow his lead—now at 5.7 points in the state, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.
The Donald has recently had a good run in Iowa. After falling behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in mid-December, the New York mogul regained the lead in the state average on Jan. 14. Shortly afterward, Sarah Palin endorsed Mr. Trump at a rally in Ames. Her disjointed speech bordered on parody, but news of the event dominated media coverage for several days. Mr. Trump followed with an endorsement from Jerry Falwell Jr.—a blow to Mr. Cruz, who was expected to sweep evangelical leaders.
The Donald also picked up blessings from Iowa’s most powerful GOP figures. The sainted Sen. Chuck Grassley introduced him at a rally Saturday, echoing the New Yorker’s signature line by saying, “We have an opportunity once again to make America great again.”
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, the longest-serving governor in American history, had hosted the candidate’s son at a deer hunt fundraiser, and posed wearing a “Make America Great Again” campaign hat. Neither man has officially endorsed Mr. Trump, but their appearances signaled to Iowa Republicans that the reality television star is acceptable, while Mr. Cruz, who opposes subsidies for the state’s ethanol industry, is not.
Still, the race remains close. A Jan. 24 Quinnipiac poll shows Mr. Trump at 31% and Mr. Cruz at 29%. More than a third of likely caucusgoers—39%—said they might change their mind before Monday’s vote.
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