Iowa Caucus Predictions
As the GOP candidates all head to the first of many finish lines in the hopes of securing the 2012 Republican nomination, a quick guestimate as to how some of them will finish in Iowa next week:
WINNER: Mitt Romney
I will qualify this initial prediction by stating that so long as he finishes in the top 2, Mitt Romney wins in Iowa. His campaign has done a very astute job of lowering expectations in what is always a rather odd caucus format, but recent weeks have seen the Romney camp working hard to close the gap in Iowa, and with Newt Gingrich’s rather drastic fall in the polls, it is clear a good number of voters initially wary of Romney’s “moderate” politics are giving the former governor a second look. If he does in fact secure no worse than a second place finish in Iowa, and then an outright win in New Hampshire, Romney’s momentum, combined with his considerable on the ground organization, will make him very difficult to defeat.
RUNNER UP: Ron Paul
In 2008, the Republican establishment viewed Ron Paul as something of a minor sideshow oddity. Not anymore. The support for Congressman Paul is now a significant and integral part of the Iowa Caucus. While some of that support may be coming from Democrats attempting to game the outcome, and who have no intention of actually voting for him over Barack Obama were he to win the Republican nomination, there remains many others who view Ron Paul’s anti-government stance as the most timely and important message of the 2012 campaign season – and they may very well be right. Rumors are now circulating that the Republican Convention organizers are already making overtures to the Paul campaign to avoid a potential third party run that could prove disastrous to Republican hopes of preventing another four years of an Obama administration. Ron Paul has them worried – as well they should be.
SURPRISE SHOWING: Rick Santorum
No candidate is working harder to earn the support of Iowa conservatives than Rick Santorum. A grueling travel schedule across the state and a willingness to speak with anyone at any time is finally paying dividends for the former Pennsylvania senator. He is earning some well deserved support from caucus goers that will likely propel him to perhaps as high as a 4th place showing once the votes are tabulated. The dedication of his supporters mirrors that of Ron Paul – these folks will show up regardless of weather to make their case for their candidate. If the weather is particular bad during the caucus votes, Santorum might even finish as high as third. On the downside for the Santorum campaign – if he finishes at or near the very bottom in Iowa, candidate Santorum will likely call it a day and end his campaign.
HOPING THEY STAY IN IT: Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry
Newt Gingrich has provided a much needed push against the establishment favorite Mitt Romney. While past positions, statements, and associations will continue to dog the former House Speaker, the intellectual dismantling of Barack Obama’s war on America is a welcome change from the former kinder gentler campaign stylings of Mitt Romney. By necessity, Gingrich has made Romney tougher, and if Romney is to ultimately receive the nomination, toughness will be a critical component in defeating Barack Obama. The last thing Republicans need is a replay of the “don’t say anything bad about my opponent” that plagued the 2008 McCain campaign. Gingrich is still polling well in other states, but lack of money and organization are making him increasingly vulnerable to the Romney machine.
As for Rick Perry, a series of poor debates left his campaign wobbly, but he appears to have found some semblance of balance in recent weeks. The reports that he perhaps attempted to hit the campaign trail too soon after major back surgery appears to have merit – the Texas governor has been considerably more focused and on message of late, and his more recent debates have shown him to be a candidate whose understanding of the fundamental political questions of our time is far greater than initially perceived. The economic successes in Texas, though certainly not due entirely to Perry’s role as governor of that state, are both impressive and a model for what could be in America if only voters demanded Washington D.C. get out of the way and let the free market and the innovations of the American spirit do what this country has always done so well – succeed.
I welcome your own predictions regarding the Iowa Caucus in the comment section below. Please remain respectful of all the candidate as you do so.
(ht/Ulsterman for a great analysis. Well Done-