Iowa caucuses

Cruz and Rubio 'Flavor of the Month'

Cruz, left, and Rubio, right, are both first-term senators, but Rubio enjoys more establishment support. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With 60 days to go until the Iowa caucuses, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and are attempting to capitalize on recent momentum in a GOP field long dominated by this year's two outsider candidates.  

Cruz is now in second place  in Iowa, and Rubio is second behind Donald Trump in th e Granite State, according to several polls . Both candidates trail Trump and Ben Carson in national polling averages .  

Early Iowa Presidential Polls a Better Predictor Than National Ones

National polls in 2007 showed Clinton with a big lead over Obama and Edwards going into the Iowa caucuses. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Last month, national polls by CNN/ORC, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal got plenty of attention, and they certainly helped readers and viewers understand what is going on in the Republican and Democratic presidential contests.  

But if history is any guide, early national polls are far less valuable in understanding what is happening in the presidential contest than are reliable surveys of Iowa voters, such as the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.  

A Significant Reassessment of the GOP Race

Trump’s image in Iowa has improved at the same time that his flaws, shortcomings and liabilities have become more apparent. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Republican front-runner Donald Trump isn’t going away anytime soon, I now believe.  

That assessment doesn’t mean I think Trump is the favorite for the Iowa caucuses or the GOP nomination, but it does reflect a fundamental shift in my thinking. I have believed and been arguing that once Iowa Republicans start to see the caucuses as an opportunity to select the next president, rather than an opportunity to express their frustration and anger, they will turn away from Trump (and other outsiders) and toward politically experienced, mainstream contenders.