This my analysis of what would happen if the Iowa Caucuses were today, and not my candidate preferences. I have yet to endorse a candidate, and may not do so. For my candid thoughts on each candidate as an undecided voter, click here.
1) Ron Paul (18%)
He remains the candidate in the race with the best combination of an excited base and quality organization, which is the best in the state. I personally saw his organization pull in over 500 people on a Saturday morning to a National Federation of Republican Assemblies event, and he was the only candidate with any real support there. However, the January 3rd Caucus date does not work in his favor because it could leave a lot of his younger voters still away for the holidays out in the cold.
2) Newt Gingrich (17%)
He could be on the brink of a surge here down the stretch, and the way he is running his campaign by being substantive on issues and taking the high road on his primary competition allows him to appeal to Bob Vander Plaats (grassroots) and Terry Branstad (establishment) types alike. If he can stay disciplined the rest of the way, and with Gingrich past history indicates that is always a big if, he will be formidable. Three months ago Gingrich lost his campaign apparatus to Rick Perry, now he has twice his support.
3) Mitt Romney (16%)
The ascendancy of Gingrich hurts Romney, because it gives those who no longer view him as a palatable champion a natural alternative, since those are also folks that may not be comfortable with any of the more grassroots-type candidates.
4) Herman Cain (15%)
He’s already peaked, gone supernova, and peaked again.
5) Rick Santorum (13%)
Every time he’s on the brink of a breakthrough someone else steals his thunder. Prior to the Straw Poll it was Michele Bachmann. Now it’s Cain and Gingrich overshadowing him. However, he’s definitely a candidate a lot of former Mike Huckabee supporters are considering, and he might have the second best organization in the state, so he will be a factor.
6) Michele Bachmann (11%)
She seems to have rediscovered her boldness since the last time we rated the candidates, but now she needs to re-establish her organizational footing.
7) Rick Perry (10%)
So far he just hasn’t sold himself to Iowans, and has already failed to make a good first impression. The overall race is so fluid that it’s not hopeless for him, but the clock is ticking. Here’s a question: Chuck Norris is the most outspoken Christian Patriot celebrity in the country, so why hasn’t he endorsed for president the guy that’s been his governor for the last 11 years?
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