National numbers like those released in Wednesday's Quinnipiac national poll
are "fascinating," but they have nothing to do with what will start to unfold when the actual presidential primaries and caucuses begin in February, Dr. Larry Sabato, director for the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said Wednesday.
"The [Marco] Rubio increase is significant, no question about that," Sabato told Fox News' "Fox and Friends"
program. "Wait until the results come in from Iowa, and then from New Hampshire. And then from South Carolina, you're going to have a new world."
And while Donald Trump continued his reign at the top of the Quinnipiac poll, Sabato said in Iowa, between 50 and 60 percent of the caucus participants are evangelicals, and the state Republicans have a strong Christian base.
"You've got to keep your eye on Ted Cruz," said Sabato. "I think Rubio may do better than expected. But Cruz is the one who's in a position to absorb some of the Ben Carson supporters, who seem to be flaking off from him as we move into this crucial final two months before Iowa."
But in years past, Sabato noted, candidates who spent the most time on the ground in Iowa, like Mike Huckabee in 2008, were the ones to be ahead in the polls in Iowa, but now, Carson and Trump are doing their campaigning differently.
"It was inevitable over time that Iowa and New Hampshire would convert from the ground game to the television game," said Sabato, but he's still suspicious of that effort.
"In Iowa in particular, this is a caucus," he continued. "You're only going to have maybe 200,000 Republicans show up to participate in that caucus. The state has what, 5 million people? So it's a tiny sample."
And polls pick up Republicans who most likely will not participate in the caucuses, Sabato said, and "that's why the polls are misleading."
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has gotten "a second look in New Hampshire," a place where "if he doesn't win, it's over. The same is probably true for Jeb Bush, the same is probably true for John Kasich, so there are a lot of people with all their chips on New Hampshire. Christie has gotten a second look, but it may or may not be enough."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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