Iowa Caucuses: It’s Still Anyone’s Ballgame

While Michele Bachmann got all the headlines, the real news from the most recent Des Moines Register survey is that there is still room for additional candidates to join the race. The survey, conducted June 19-22 interviewed 400 likely GOP caucus goers on their preferences for Republican candidates for President.

Michele Bachmann deserved the headlines she received.  She is statistically tied with Mitt Romney (Romney 23%/Bachmann 22%) and has the highest favorables in the field (65% favorable/31% very favorable).

Despite Bachmann’s showing in the Des Moines Register Survey, the number that jumps out is that only 14% of Iowa Republicans say that their Presidential choice is finalized.  This means that Iowa Republicans are still very open to other options in the Republican nomination for the Presidency.  In fact, 69% of those who make a choice on the nomination say that they could be persuaded to support a different candidate from the one they are currently backing.

This is important for potential Republican candidates such as Rick Perry and Sarah Palin, both potentially heavy hitters in the Iowa caucuses.

While Bachmann presently is the beneficiary of the Tea Party label and support; that becomes a much more difficult territory to defend should established Tea Party favorites like Rick Perry of Sarah Palin throw their hats in the ring. Bachmann may have gotten to them first in the early polling, but only time will tell whether the Tea Partiers will return to their first loves or stick with the new kid on the block.

Looking forward to the general election, likely Republican caucus goers are fairly confident that there is already a candidate in the announced field who is capable of defeating Barack Obama in the general election.  Eighty-six percent of likely caucus goers say that there is at least one candidate who can beat the current President while only seven percent say that there is not currently a candidate who can defeat the President.

The Iowa Caucus are still a long way off and a lot can change between now and next February.  Current data out of Iowa suggests that is a strong possibility.  Bachmann has made an impressive early showing in the state, but the key question will be whether she can solidify her support quickly enough to survive what will surely be a strong challenge from a still developing Republican field.