Join Chuck Warren and Sam Stone as they engage with political analyst David Catanese as he highlights five key counties — Dallas, Polk, Story, Johnson, and Scott — that could significantly impact the race, particularly for Nikki Haley. If these ‘Rubio counties’ lean towards Nikki Haley, DeSantis could find himself in a troubling position. Listen in for an expert analysis on the strategic plays and voter dynamics that could lead to a swift and decisive moment in the nomination process.
SAM STONE: During the break we were talking with Dave and he has been very gracious to continue on with us from a third segment but he’s been doing something really fascinating… Chuck that is the kind of thing that warms the nerd hearts in this room.
CHUCK WARREN: Yeah Dave’s gone all nerd you know, he goes to Miami one weekend to dance the night away and next thing I know he’s plowing away at maps in Iowa. What is that all about Dave?
DAVID CATANESE: It’s all about balance.
CHUCK WARREN: So, tell us about what you’ve done. You’ve done a little project here about the maps and what to look for in Iowa.
DAVID CATANESE: Yeah, so there are five counties.
I was fascinated because I didn’t realize how close Rubio got to Trump back in 2016. He only finished a point behind Trump, which I think got lost a little bit in that night.
He won five counties.
And then looking at this… he’s Nikki Haley in this campaign. Haley, she’s sort of running the same type of campaign Rubio did. You know, center right, but sort of more establishmentarian, a little bit throwback to the old era you want to call it, you know, Bush, McConnell, Paul Ryan politics.
CHUCK WARREN: Reagan.
DAVID CATANESE: Yeah, Reagan.
SAM STONE: It’s the neoconservative lane.
DAVID CATANESE: Right. And so there were five counties that Rubio won. So, if you’re listeners want to nerd out.
Look at these counties:
Of the 99 counties in Iowa, Rubio won those five counties.
If Nikki Haley is winning or very close, if she’s competing really well with Trump in those counties, these are suburban, sort of more, you know, middle-of-the-road Republicans. I wouldn’t say middle-of-the-road. They’re still conservative, but they’re sort of that old Republican Party, pre-Trump Republican.
They’re higher educated.
They might, you know, they might even vote for a Democrat down ticket. These are the voters that are going to be important for Haley.
And if Haley is doing well in these counties, Dallas, Polk, Story, Johnson, Scott, I call them the Rubio counties. She’s probably going to win second place and DeSantis is in trouble.
These aren’t necessarily DeSantis counties because DeSantis is sort of Trump like, right? He’s more ideologically pure and the Trump wing of the party. So he’s fighting over Trump voters.
I think Haley’s sort of running in a lane of her own here. And the question is, can she recapture that? Rubio, remember, he got 23% of the vote. I think if Haley ends up at 23% of the vote or in the mid-20s, that’s a really good night for her and that’ll be powered by those five counties.
CHUCK WARREN: That’s a great night.
SAM STONE: Yeah, that’s interesting.
CHUCK WARREN: What it sounds like to me is that this nomination could be wrapped up very fast. I mean, by the end of February.
About David Catanese
David Catanese is the host of Too Close Too Call podcast. He is a Washington-based political writer ready to feed your political appetite but also challenge you on some of life’s larger quandaries. He has written for McClatchy, The Atlantic, U.S. News & World Report & Politico.