Nobody knows the winner of Iowa but Jesus. That's the dirty little secret.Matt Lewis hits the nail on the head on this. Nobody knows. Why? Well, the caucuses are a big event. You don't just go into a voting booth, check a box, and leave. You're there for a while. You hear speeches. You get persuaded. Then you vote.It is slow going.And we don't know who will turn out. Even the best pollsters have a hard time getting the caucuses right.We can guess that Ron Paul and Mitt Romney will be in the top three. But as for the third who may finish in second place or may finish in third place? It could be Gingrich. It could be Perry. It could be a late surging Rick Santorum.It's anybody's game, but one thing is certain. If Perry or Gingrich are in the top three, we have a real race headed into South Carolina. If it is Santorum, we might as well sit back and declare Mitt Romney the nominee.
Kent Sorenson, Michele Bachmann's campaign chair in Iowa, betrayed her and went over to Ron Paul. Betrayal garners sympathy, which hurts Ron Paul and helps Bachmann, but I don't think enough to seriously boost her numbers.
Gingrich is plummeting in Iowa. He's still doing well nationally, but trending down. It comes down to his finish in Iowa and whether his campaign can transcend traditional campaigning. Convention wisdom says Newt's campaign should be falling apart because it is so untraditional. We'll see. My guess is Newt finishes third or fourth and if fourth it depends on the size of Ron Paul's margin. But Santorum is suddenly a wildcard.
The game doesn't even begin for Huntsman for another two weeks. He has bypassed Iowa and I think he has done so to his peril. Huntsman could give Romney a run for his money in New Hampshire, but I think he made the mistake the Giuliani team made in choosing to ignore Iowa altogether. It's going to be tough to go from New Hampshire to Florida, because he'll largely be bypassing South Carolina too.Huntsman can be competitive in New Hampshire, but he'd have to really, really scramble if he won. I think it will be tough.
Not gonna happen. Ron Paul won't, I don't think, even take first in Iowa. It is possible. I won't say he cannot. But the polls showing him the strongest also rely heavily on new voters, young voters, and voters who are not Republican. I don't think enough of them will go to a caucus. He may take second place, but that'll be the end of the show for Ron Paul.
Perry has continued a slow and steady surge in Iowa, but I get the sense Santorum is now cutting into that. Perry will probably come in third or fourth, but Santorum's creep up could put Perry in fifth like the CNN poll shows. That said, Perry has a stronger Iowa organization than Santorum and has spent more money there. I think Perry and Gingrich battle it out to be the non-Romney. If Perry is in fourth, but Ron Paul surprises us all with a stronger than expected showing, Perry can stay in the game into South Carolina.
It is still Romney's race to lose and I would not be surprised at all by a first place win in Iowa. That'll cause a lot of people to start settling for Romney, but I think we'll have one last hurrah for the non-Romney candidates headed into South Carolina. It really all depends on — whodathunkit — Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum will not be the nominee. Rick Santorum could do well in Iowa. If Rick Santorum does well in Iowa it (A) provides further proof that Iowans demand candidates spend time in the state; (B) provides further proof that Iowa is an anomaly undeserving of its first in the nation status; (C) provides further proof my fellow Evangelicals are terrible at politics; and (D) largely ensures Mitt Romney is the nominee.The Romney camp must be delighted by Rick Santorum. I expect he gets a cabinet position out of this if Romney were to win.
None of the above
I think if Romney does well in Iowa, it short circuits the idea of someone else getting in. And that is the most likely scenario.