Winning Iowa

With the Iowa Caucuses less than 48 hours from now, all the Republican candidates are going overboard trying to get as many supporters as they possibly can. There’s both hope and fear with the candidates, so which one is likely to win Iowa?

I suggest we keep in mind that even at this point, about 40 percent of likely voters have stated that they could still change their minds and there are still some undecided voters, meaning that this is very much an open race, meaning that the polls right now should be taken with a grain of salt. So who has the best chance to win Iowa and what will it mean for them?

Let’s start with Mitt Romney. I don’t think he’s going to win first place in Iowa, and I expect him to hover at around 2nd-4th place. He only started campaigning in Iowa a couple weeks ago, later than many of the other candidates, focusing many of his efforts towards winning in New Hampshire.

Ron Paul… what is there to say about him? Even if he gets first place, he’s not going to win the general nomination, so it really doesn’t matter.

For most candidates, though, Iowa will be make or break.

Newt Gingrich I believe will have an average showing. All the negative campaign ads have had an effect on him, but an obstacle that is just as great is his personal life and I guarantee that social conservatives will be keeping that in mind when making their final decision. His advantages are that his name is already well-known, as are his weaknesses, and I know numerous people who smile at the thought of him debating President Downgrade. Since the debates for the year are over, however, it’s not going to help him as much.

Michele Bachmann has not been able to gain a lot of traction, either nationally or in Iowa. Admittedly, she might make a surprise showing, but I don’t see her too far. Her constant insistence of “I am a serious candidate!” means that she knows that a lot’s on the line.

Rick Perry’s throwing everything he has into winning in Iowa. He’s spent about 4 million dollars in campaign ads and like the other candidates, is continuing his bus tour. He’s moved up in the polls a bit and I’ve read the claims that the media is deliberately downplaying the size of  the crowds he gathers, so he’s a wild card.

Rick Santorum has been a big surprise in the past week, surging as Gingrich has fallen. He rose up in the polls at a favorable moment and has done more touring than any of the candidates and from the videos, he does well in town hall meetings. However, the voters haven’t really gotten a chance to know him, since his surge into the limelight is quite recent. Nevertheless, I think he’ll make a strong showing.

Jon Huntsman isn’t even campaigning in Iowa and is dead last in every poll I’ve seen in that state. He’s not going to get anywhere in that state, hoping for a better showing in New Hampshire.

The question is: how well do the candidates have to do in order to move onto the primaries?

A poor showing in Iowa is something that both Romney and Paul can survive. Romney has a lot of money that he can use in the future and even more importantly, has organization and name recognition. So long as he doesn’t come in dead last in the caucus and I don’t think that’s likely to happen, he’ll have enough strength to continue. Paul will continue no matter what, since despite what you might think of him, his followers are extremely devoted.

For the other candidates, though, they need to show strength in Iowa or their campaigns are dead in the water. To have enough momentum, the others must manage to get into the top three. Bachmann, Gingrich, and Santorum don’t have a whole lot of campaign funds at the moment and their organizations leave something to be desired, so this is their lifeline. Perry is in a more advantageous position than the other second-tier candidates. He’s got enough money to continue, meaning he’ll be able to survive if he gets fourth, but anything below that is going to sink him.

After Iowa, our field will be narrowed to 3 or 4 potential candidates. Then it’s off to new Hampshire.