The Real Race in the Iowa Republican Presidential Caucuses.

    Bookmark and Share   With 47 or so days before Republicans hold their first presidential nominating contest, crunch time is fast approaching and while the Iowa caucuses will not be the definitive contest in determining who the ultimately nominee is, some candidates have more to  to lose in the Hawkeye State than others. 

At the top of that least is Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann.

The stakes are equally high for the two of them and while there may be more pressure on  Bchmann to win the state given that she is a native and won  their preeminent Ames Iowa Straw Poll, Rick Santorum also feels the pressure. But at this point in time, the pressure is not to take first place in the caucus, it is on them to just place somewhere in the top three .  Such placement will keep their campaigns alive at least for the 18 days prior to the South Carolina primary.

The truth is that winning Iowa is not critical to the success of any candidate running for President at the moment and the real race right now is not who can come in first in Iowa, it is to avoid coming in last in Iowa.  A last place finish in Iowa will be a deal breaker for whoever the unfortunate or incompetent candidate that turns out to be.  

This is the case across the board.  Just think what the ramifications of a last place showing for Mitt Romney in Iowa would be?

Despite his lack of focus on the state, a last place showing will send shockwave through the electorate that will be felt in New Hampshire and give some lucky alternative candidate a chance to to turn things around there.

If Rick Perry lead the back of the pack, he will be written off quicker than Osama bin Laden at a Faith and Freedom Coalition rally.  If Newt’s name wound up at the bottom of the list, even the most ardent of his supporters will be too embarrassed to admit their support for him.  You can go down the entire list and you will find that the final four finishers in Iowa will be all down for the count.  Their campaigns may continue, but their candidates will essentially be political zombies.

This makes the next 6 weeks all the more important.  

With a large portion of Republican primary voters and caucus goers undecided and most still not even firmly committed to the candidate they currently prefer, the slightest event, intent, or quality of campaign content can sway enough voters to drastically change popular thinking and expectations.    Which is why the next four presidential debates will carry much more weight than all those which have preceded.

Today we learned the Des Moines Register cancelled a debate they had scheduled for December 19th.  Instead they will co-sponsor a December 10th debate with ABC News and the Iowa State Republican Party. The Register cited what they described as an already crowded debate schedule as the reason for their decision.  And they’re right.  There have been many debates but as we approach voting deadlines, each debate becomes more important and has greater stakes.  So the next four debates will be far more important than any to date in this election cycle. 

 As seen in the schedule shown below, the next one will be held in Washington, DC, this coming Tuesday, November 22nd.

 

November 22, 2011 CNN / Heritage Foundation / AEI Debate Washington, DC
November 30, 2011 CNN / Arizona GOP Debate Mesa, AZ
December 10, 2011 ABC News / Des Moines Register / Iowa GOP Debate Des Moines, IA
December 15, 2011 FOX News / Iowa GOP Debate Sioux City, IA
January 3, 2012 Iowa Caucus

It will be in that debate that we should we begin to see each candidate’s final strategy in Iowa begin to play out.  We should be able to get an idea of whether Mitt Romney will change course and try to wrap up the nomination early with a surprise win in Iowa that stymies the momentum of another candidate becoming the defacto challenger to him  after denying them a first place showing that makes them heir apparent to frontrunner status.

In this next debate we should notice a Iowa-centric focus by those who intend to wage a true fight to stay as far away from last place in the Iowa Caucus as humanly possible.  And that focus will only increase with each successive one until finally Iowa does one of two things ………. insures that Mitt Romney becomes the Republican nominee, or just weids the field down by as many as two or threee candidates.  Something which is by no means insignificant.  Just think how much more time it will give those still running to address the issues in the two debates following Iowa and leading up to the  New Hampshire primary.

The post Iowa debate schedule is as follows:

 

January 7, 2012 ABC News / WMUR-TV Debate
January 8, 2012 NBC News / Facebook Debate
January 10, 2012 New Hampshire Primary
January 16, 2012 FOX News / South Carolina GOP Debate
January 19, 2012 CNN / Southern GOP Leadership Conference Debate
January 21, 2012 South Carolina Primary
January 23, 2012 NBC News / St Petersberg Times / National Journal Debate
January 26, 2012 CNN / Florida GOP Debate
January 31, 2012 Florida Primary
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