In 36 hours from now, the huddled masses of Republicans, yearning to be crazy, will gather in rooms and decide the fate of their party in the upcoming 2012 Presidential Election. Up to this point, it has been anybody’s game. But tomorrow, we will know who is in good shape, bad shape and possibly out of the game all together. So without further ado, let’s look at the caucus for tomorrow.
7th – Jon Huntsman, Jr.: This goes without saying. Huntsman hasn’t even been a player in this caucus. I guess supporting the idea of evolution isn’t too popular with those in Iowa.
Anyway, back to being serious, Huntsman has never targeted Iowa and is putting all of his eggs in the New Hampshire basket (which he will find out in the end doesn’t work). Still, one must wonder why Huntsman is even running. I guess the two main assumptions will be that he is either looking at being a front-runner in 2016 (which, again, seems unlikely due to the extreme right shift in the GOP) or a VP spot. If Romney becomes the nominee, he can kiss that VP spot away as well.
Still, if there are a few Huntsman supporters in Iowa, one must wonder if they will defect on Caucus Day. If they do, Romney would be the most likely choice (not because of religion, but because of ideology). Therefore, Huntsman defectors could lead to a 1%-2% boost for Romney in Tuesday’s final tally.
6th – Michele Bachmann: Ever hear of the term “they peaked too early”? Well, Bachmann is the best example. Bachmannmania might have been big in the middle of 2011. But was that because she was one of the only candidates running besides Romney? No matter what, it seems that the Sarah Palin-type magic isn’t going to rub off on Bachmann. This leads me to wonder Sarah Palin would have even had a chance in Iowa? I say yes, but it still begs the question.
Bachmann might have the same problem that Hunstman has. If she doesn’t have any chance of picking up state delegates, do a chunk of her supporter defect and put themselves behind another candidate? This is where Rick Perry might come into play. Both are along the same ideology and a Bachmann voter could easily be swayed by a Perry campaign staffer.
So, why would Bachmann supporters possibly go to Perry and not Santorum? Because of the caucus-type of system, campaign staffers will be out in force trying to convince caucus goers to vote for their candidates. And when it comes down to it, Perry has one big tool over Santorum: Perry is a two-term Texas Governor that won by double digits, Santorum lost by nearly 20% in his reelection bid. If Perry supporters use this argument to sway people to their candidate, they could be successful in nailing just a few more caucus goers to vote for their guy.
But anyway, back to Bachmann. Expect her to do worse than expected from these possible defections. If this is the case, I have a feeling the “Bachmann for President” campaign only has 48 hours left.
5th – Newt Gingrich: Remember when Newt wasn’t taking this campaign seriously and seemed to be using his run for President to just take trips around the country to promote himself and his books? Well, that lack of commitment might have just bit him in the ass. He was handed a golden plate of support two weeks ago, and started surging in the polls. But the fact that Newt didn’t have any ground organization in Iowa has dropped him right back down toward the bottom.
With the Newt campaign being ‘leaderless’ at the caucus level, possible supporters might be swayed by other campaigns for vote for their candidates. What hurts Gingrich is that there will be very few supporters of his locally to back him up. Newt could be the biggest loser of the evening.
If he finishes 5th, his campaign is essentially over. He might be able to pick up some support in other states, but what states? Newt doesn’t seem to have any type of message. You can’t look at him and say “Newt is (this)”. Therefore, besides his experience, I don’t know why people would vote for him. And, of course, experience isn’t everything. Ask Barack Obama and Bill Richardson.
Newt could drop out if his numbers are poor, but he has too many more book signing stops before he decides to do that. On the other hand, what if he does well? If he can finish as high as 3rd, he does have a chance. Still, a 4th and lower makes him a non-factor in this race and he will just slip into oblivion.
4th – Rick Perry: Everyone is talking about Santorum being the unknown, but what about Rick Perry? Could be pull off a surprise at the last minute? Iowa can pull of some surprises. On the other hand, Iowa isn’t always the predictor of everything.
Still, if Perry plans on staying in this race, he needs a “stronger than expected” showing. First on that list is that he needs to finish ahead of Newt and Bachmann. If he finishes behind Newt, he could be in serious trouble. On the other hand, there is still a chance for him to finish 2nd. If that is the case, then the nomination could be Perry’s to lose. Perry is the wildcard in this race…watch his performance. I expect him to do better than expected.
3rd – Ron Paul: The last few days hasn’t been kind to Ron Paul. Basically showing that Paul is a racist, I have a feeling that some of his support might dry up. A lot of Ron Paul supporters are just young pot smokers that have a one track mind when looking at elections. Still, could these racist comments and writings in his past turn off enough young voters for him not to do well? I think so.
Also, he is relying on young voters. True, a lot of young voters helped Obama win, but they thought they were taking part of something historic. There is no feeling of a Paul Presidency being “historic”, but just legalizing pot. Therefore, I think the laziness of young voters that might have supported Paul will just sleep in on Election Day. Paul’s young voters are not like Obama’s, more like Howard Dean’s ‘youngins’.
So who does that leave for Paul? Pretty much his core group consists of conspiracy theorists and older pot smokers (sometimes one in the same). And even with them, there might be a chance that they don’t even show up. The most fickle of voters (no matter how organized they are) are Paul voters. Therefore, I think Paul could get second, but honestly think that finishing 3rd or lower is more of a likelihood. Don’t be surprised at all at a 4th place finish.
2nd – Rick Santorum: Ah, this year’s “Mike Huckabee”. The guy that could win the Iowa caucus and then just crash and burn afterward. There is no doubt about Santorum’s surge in the polls. Also, Santorum has quietly organized at the local level, which is important in Iowa. I guess when you have no money, local organization is all you can do. But will it help?
Santorum isn’t leading because of his views on the issues, but purely because he has sounded like the most intelligent anti-Romney choice during the debates. Honestly, with the exception of Romney, Santorum could be considered the winner of many of the 1,000 debates the GOP held. Therefore, while still being right-wing, he has been taking more of an “only anti-Romney adult in the room” approach, which is working well. He hasn’t made any mistakes and has composed himself well.
There is one huge issue that might turn off caucus goers at the last minute though. He is the guy that lost his own Senate seat by near 20%. The question of Santorum’s electability will be buzzing around the local high schools and civic centers during caucus night. The question is if it will matter?
Santorum has been able to find a lot of organizers at the precinct level. But does this mean that he can transform that into votes? While organization is important, it isn’t everything. The candidate must convince the voter that they can win as well. Santorum is looking good, but just has that electability cloud over his head.
1st – Mitt Romney: Could the battle for the GOP nomination end before it even starts? If Romney can pull off a win in Iowa followed by a large victory in New Hampshire, South Carolina will then become a useless primary, considering it will be followed up by Florida, Maine, Nevada and Colorado, all states Romney should win. And if he has six out of seven to start off, especially in the GOP’s “winner takes all” delegate system, he will be unstoppable.
All the other candidates during this process have seen their poll numbers jump all over the place. Romney is the exception. Yes, some say that he might have hit a ceiling, but he hasn’t bottomed out at any point. And the fact that the GOP primaries are really fluid, Romney is the only one that has shown any stability.
But what is more important that stability is organization, time and money. Romney has been organizing and spending time in Iowa ever since he lost in 2008. Therefore, he is the candidate with a history in the state as well as organization. In addition, being the candidate with the most money helps as well.
Considering Romney wasn’t really targeting Iowa like some of the other candidates, a win here would easily put him on the nomination fast track, no matter how small or large the win. Still, expect Romney to win by a larger than expected margin. If he wins Iowa, he wins the nomination.
In a nutshell
Expect Romney to win the Iowa caucuses, as he has been the most stable candidate as far as poll numbers. Ron Paul will do well in the polls, but will be a disappointment come Caucus Day. If Rick Santorum finishes well, it will be looked at as a victory, but will have little staying power outside of Iowa. The wildcard of the race will be Perry, and expect him to finish better than expected. Finally, Michele Bachmann drops out of the race.