For one, it'd be absurd to drop out the day of a caucus or primary. Instead, people drop out the following day because that caucus or primary is the last one on a candidate's record and, irrespective of what his next move is, it's always better for him if the numbers in that showing are higher rather than lower. Secondly, these are putative rock-ribbed Fox News-loving Republicans who are interpreting an insinuation from CNN as gospel truth?
But this "election alert voter violation" mailer takes the sleaze to another level:
It's impossible to spin away as anything other than a blatant attempt at coercing--through deception and perceived duress--low-information voters into showing up at caucus locations, many of whom presumably knew little about the caucus they'd shown up to participate in.
In a primary, this would be a questionable tactic from a strictly results-oriented perspective, since the people flushed out to the polls in this manner would just end up clueless in front of a list of names on a screen, but the Iowa caucuses are public. People make pitches for the candidates they're supporting, and campaign volunteers are crawling all over the place.
Ted Cruz, having campaigned for years in the state, had the most expansive ground game and the widest amount of personal contact with caucus participants of anyone in the GOP field. His people were everywhere, and they presumably all knew about these mailers. It's conceivable that they were on the lookout for people unsure of what they needed to do to make right this "voter violation" before "a follow-up notice" was "issued following Monday's caucuses" to them.
Unlike the shifty Carson play, Cruz didn't grovel on the mailer:
Cruz, however, was defiant to reporters when asked about the mailer in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday night.Keep your eye on the prize, (t)Eddie Cruz!
"I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote," he said.
Parenthetically, as Heartiste pointed out, the results head-scratcher comes not from Cruz's performance, but from Rubio's. The polling averages were actually quite accurate across the board--off by a couple of percentage points here and there--except for Trump and Rubio. Trump's polling numbers putatively turned out to be over-hyped by over 4 points while Rubio's were more than 6 points worse than his caucus-day performance.
The narrative of fence-sitting Trump supporters switching to Rubio at the last minute is almost inconceivable, so why were the data so off the mark when it came to these two while managing to get it just about right on everybody else?