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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

Horserace for December 22, 2011

We’re headed into Christmas and people are starting to tune out. Before they tune out, the last images they are seeing before setting their eyes on a Christmas tree, are Newt Gingrich under attack from Team Romney, Ron Paul under attack from everyone, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry on a bus tour in Iowa, and Rick Santorum getting help from evangelicals.The clock ticks down to the actual start of the race in just over a week. Iowa voters will go to the caucuses and start us down the road to the White House.Even though people are checking out and tuning out, there is still time for a shake up and there are two trends in Iowa that all the polls are showing. Rick Perry is going up. Newt Gingrich is going down.We’ll get into it all in the Horserace today.

Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is rebounding, but the Gallup poll shows that Bachmann trended up for several weeks before going back down. It seems people are taking a look at Bachmann and Perry and going with Perry. Bachmann’s debate performances have been strong in recent weeks, but not enough to cause a significant rebound. Out of money and out of time, Michele Bachmann’s days are numbered.

Newt Gingrich

Don’t ever believe anyone who says negative advertising does not work. People may not like it, but it works well. Newt Gingrich is getting pummeled by Bachmann, Paul, Perry, and Romney. He has not adequately responded. He does not have the money to respond. But more importantly, he does not have the organization in Iowa to churn people out for the caucuses. If he holds on to the top three, Gingrich could rebound in South Carolina, but the trend lines in the polling suggest he could wind up in fourth place, which would put him out of the race.

Jon Huntsman

Huntsman continues to inch up in New Hampshire, which hurts Romney, but I don’t know that it helps Huntsman. He would have to rebound and go where? South Carolina? Florida? He could still be the guy the non-Romney supporters rally around, but he is going to have to make a strong showing in New Hampshire.The funny thing is Huntsman does not have to win New Hampshire. He just has to make Romney look like a weak first place win. Unfortunately though, I think Huntsman is going the way of Rudy.

Ron Paul

No chance. Here’s his problem even in Iowa. His voters who say they are going to go caucus for him are new voters, young voters, and non-Republican voters. These people don’t go to caucuses. And the young voters have all gone home for Christmas vacation from college.He’s going to do well, but that’ll be about it.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry is surging slowly and steadily in Iowa. I would not be surprised if he makes it to the top three. Over the last few weeks his campaign has been hitting every note right. But polling is hard to measure right now and Rick Santorum got several evangelical endorsements that help him compete against Perry in Iowa.If Perry holds steady and doesn’t lose his footing again, I still see a solid path for him. In fact, I think we are back at the old dynamic. Romney, being distracted by Gingrich, is letting Perry back up off the floor and we may come down to Perry vs. Romney at the end. Advantage Perry.

Mitt Romney

The most remarkable thing about Campaign 2012 is Mitt Romney holding so steady in the polls. He doesn’t go up much, but he doesn’t go down much either. It is just constant. Unfortunately, he keeps holding in second place.There is real momentum for Romney in Iowa. If he wins both Iowa and New Hampshire, he could be the nominee. The odds are right now in his favor as everyone focuses on Newt. But there is still a sizable portion of the base who will strongly revolt against Romney if he gets into the number one spot for long. Still, it remains Romney’s race to lose.

Rick Santorum

Santorum got help from Iowa’s Secretary of State and several key evangelicals. That will help him go up in the Iowa polling, but it will do nothing more than secure Mitt Romney’s lead. Santorum draws from Perry, Bachmann, and Gingrich. His ascendancy helps Mitt Romney win Iowa. Santorum himself will not be the nominee.

None of the above

If the race stays chaotic, look for someone else to get in. I’ve long thought it was impossible, but pay attention to the calendar. Between the end of January and beginning of March, little happens. There is time after South Carolina for someone to get in, make a play for the big states, and get to an open convention. The odds are long, the possibility is slim, but there is an opportunity.

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