And the Winner of the Iowa Caucus is……….

Romney and Santorum may surprise all with a first and second place finish, respectively, but South Carolina will be the real winner of the Iowa Caucuses.

Bookmark and Share I am predicting that Mitt Romney will in Iowa and it will go a long way in establishing a sense of inevitability that will help him wrap up the nomination sooner than later.   However; unless Romney racks up a win with 30 or more percent, the results will not matter a great deal and in the end, the real winner will be South Carolina.

Iowa’s caucus history shows that the winners of their nominating contests do not usually go on to become the nominee and President.  More often than not, Iowa caucus voters seem more intent on sending a message to the establishment than sending a nominee to the White House.  This time may be different in the sense that Iowa Republicans may believe that their support for most of the existing candidates will not send any strong message and that Ron Paul, the only candidate for whom a protest vote for would send a clear message, is not in any way a responsible and realistically, viable candidate.   As it is, most Iowa Republicans do not support Ron Paul.  His perceived success in the state so far is due mainly to the Independent and Democrats who are allowed to vote in the caucuses if they change their Party affiliation.

This is something which Paulbots have been planning on taking advantage for a very long time and they are doing a good job at it.

But not good enough.

In the end I believe that between all the back and forth of frontrunner status for one candidate or another, Mitt Romney who has been consistently at the top of the polls in Iowa and who has the strongest organization of all the candidates in the state, will benefit from a social conservative and evangelical vote that is sharply divided between at least four candidates, and from his perceived electability against Barack Obama.  These factors will allow Romney to win the caucus, but unless he wins by an overwhelming amount, it will not do much to help him convince people that he will definitely be the nominee.  That job will be left up to South Carolina, which will actually be the big winner coming out of Iowa.

Everyone knows that Romney will win New Hampshire, so there is little suspense there.  That leaves South Carolina which follows the Live Free or Die State, as the most pivotal of all the early state contests and the greatest beneficiary of the results in Iowa.

It is where Newt Gingrich has been trying to build a firewall and hoping to establish himself as either the frontrunner or the only real viable alternative to Mitt Romney.

South Carolina is also a prelude to the Florida and the momentum provided to the candidate who wins in South Carolina will go a long way in helping that candidate’s chances of winning in the Sunshine State’s primary. 

Even in the unlikely event that Romney blew out all his rivals with a win of  30% or more,  South Carolina will still be an early contest that either solidifies Romney’s lock on the nomination or gives someone else the opportunity to be Romney’s true chief rival as the race moves forward.

These are just simple facts which will not be changed by any result that Iowa produces.  If Senator Rick Santorum happened to pull off a Huckabee-like, 2008, come-from-behind victory, Romney will still dominate in the New Hampshire primary and South Carolina will still host the contest that play a somewhat more decisive role than either New Hampshire or Iowa.

When all is said and done, Iowa will serve one chief purpose.  It will help weed out the field of candidates.  It will help to begin sealing the deal for several of the lower tier candidates, especially Rick Perry.  But even in that capacity, Iowa is not likely to end anyone’s candidacy.  Once again, that mission will be accomplished in South Carolina.

That said, in the tradition of making predictions as one year ends and a new one begins, while I hold true to the belief that Iowa will really only matter if Romney comes in anywhere under third pace, or wins with a large plurality, I also believe that the candidates will finish as follows:

  1. Mitt Romney – 26%
  2. Rick Santorum -21%
  3. Ron Paul – 17%
  4. Newt Gingrich -16%
  5. Rick Perry – 11%
  6. Michele Bachmann – 7%
  7. Jon Huntsman – 2%

I am quite uncertain about those totals, but very confident in the order of each candidate’s placement.

These results will produce several storylines coming out of Iowa.  One will be about whether of not Mitt Romney has a lock on the nomination as he is now on a path to becoming the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to sweep both Iowa and New Hampshire?  The other story will be is Rick Santorum, the new Mike Huckabee and can he translate his strong Iowa showing into a victory elsewhere? 

The other stories that will provide the filler for 24 hour cable news programs, will be can Newt comeback “in South Carolina”? What happened to Ron Paul’s surge? And is this the end for Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann?

The answer to all these questions will be determined by the state which I argue will be the ultimate winner in the Iowa Caucuses…..South Carolina.

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Trunkline 2012: Friday’s Campaign Trail News Wrap-Up from White House 2012 – 12/30/11

Bookmark and Share  The news from the campaign trail todasy is plentiful as Newt weeps, Ron Paul rejects everyone, Perry and Santorum sharpen their aim at one another, Bachmann gets an almost endorsement, Gingrich gets a very important Iowa endorsement, and everyone offers their own views on the Caucus and everyone else.

This is a time for leadership, not warm fuzzies. The future is at stake, and we may never get another environment with the country so prepared to challenge the system as we have right now. – Steve Deace in his endorsement of Newt Gingrich
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Greta Christina
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Not sure which is funnier: headline reading “Santorum Surges From Behind,” or the fact that Rick Santorum retweeted it.
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Predicted Results of Saturday’s 2011 Iowa Straw Poll in Ames

Bookmark and Share   By Steve Deace

*Please note that these predictions are my analysis and not my preference. I will not be endorsing a candidate before the Iowa Straw Poll, if at all, nor will I vote in the Iowa Straw Poll on Saturday.

These predictions are simply based on the best data I’m privy to.

1. Michele Bachmann (21%)

She is clearly the favorite right now, but she faces a real test in Thursday’s pre-Straw Poll debate hosted by Fox News. Barring journalistic malfeasance, she’s going to be asked about signing the controversial FAMiLY LEADER marriage pledge, as well as her husband working to deliver those ensnared by homosexuality via Christian counseling so that they may live the lives God originally created them to live. How she responds to that questioning could very well determine Saturday’s results. If she has a Tim Pawlenty moment of uncertainty, like her fellow Minnesotan had when invited to confront Mitt Romney on Romneycare during the last New Hampshire debate, then the outcome on Saturday will also be uncertain. On the other hand, if she stands her ground then the mystery isn’t whether or not she’ll win, but by how much. By the way, in case you’re wondering where my predicted finish for Bachmann stacks up with past Iowa Straw Poll winners (keep in mind this year’s field is more crowded than past years):

1987—Pat Robertson 34%

1995—Bob Dole & Phil Gramm 24%

1999— George W. Bush 31%

2007—Mitt Romney 32%

2. Ron Paul (18%)

Paul’s support is pretty much locked into the 15-20% range. He has a devoted following that will show up no matter what, but it’s his ability to expand beyond that base that is in question. Nevertheless, if the weather is poor and/or Bachmann bombs the debate on Thursday he may not have to.

3. Tim Pawlenty (15%)

He just never caught on for various reasons, despite being the person who worked Iowa the hardest and the most. There have already been articles pointing fingers at whom or what is to blame for that, which is never a good omen. I believe he has to win the Straw Poll to justify hanging around given the looming entrance of Rick Perry and perhaps Sarah Palin.

4. Rick Santorum (13%)

He is catching some fire as of late, and is the best chance for a Straw Poll surprise. Although this would be far lower than fellow conservative Catholic Sam Brownback finished in the 2007 Straw Poll when he dropped out afterwards, Santorum can actually make the case he is picking up momentum given how low he’s been rated in polls and therefore deserves to stick around. I know people who are predicting he will finish ahead of Pawlenty. I don’t have quite the guts to call that shot, but I definitely see evidence of him picking up late pockets of support.

5. Herman Cain (9%)

I’ll give him a small bump courtesy of his endorsement from the Fair Tax people, who showed up in force at the Straw Poll four years ago, but other than that there’s little doubt his campaign has been done in Iowa quicker than you can say Christian Fong.

6. Mitt Romney (8%)

Romney’s finish is the toughest for me to predict, because there is still a cache of loyal supporters there despite his avoidance of Iowa. However, Iowans typically don’t reward candidates who do avoid them.

7. Rick Perry (7%)

There will be a subtle yet substantive write-in effort on behalf of the Texas governor/presidential candidate in waiting, we just don’t know yet how substantive.

8. Newt Gingrich (4%)

The former Speaker is planning a complete reboot of his presidential bid in September that he’s promising will be bold. We shall see if it’s a case of too little, too late. For now he’s a non-entity in Ames.

9. Sarah Palin (3%)

I think there will be some write-in votes for the former Alaska governor, but not necessarily as part of an organized effort by her fellows. She’ll make her show of force at the Central Iowa Tea Party rally on September 3rd.

9. Thaddeus McCotter (1%)

I think he’ll get a few votes from people who are either contrarians, or they just want to take advantage of the rare opportunity to vote for someone named Thaddeus.

10. Jon Huntsman (1%)

He’s the champion of the self-loathing Iowa Republican who thinks we don’t deserve to have the Iowa Caucuses if the Arlen Specters of the world aren’t welcome here. Thankfully, that’s barely 1% of the Iowa Straw Poll voting demographic, because the rest of them are too busy either working for or funding Terry Branstad’s lifetime appointment to Terrace Hill to take part.

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Iowa Caucus Power Rating For Week of July 25th

Bookmark and Share By Steve Deace

Please note these predictions are only my analysis, and not my preference, of what the results of the Iowa Caucuses would be if they occurred today with the field as it currently is and based on what we currently know. I have yet to endorse a candidate, and will not be doing so before the Iowa Straw Poll if at all.

1. Michele Bachmann (30%)

She is in better shape in the caucuses than the Straw Poll, where she is about a month behind in mobilizing her support into a show of force in Ames. If the Straw Poll were after Labor Day she might lap the field, but with the Straw Poll three weeks away she’s in danger of stubbing her toe there unless her campaign does a lot of things right. It will be interesting to see what happens to her prospects if indeed that happens. But for now there is little doubt she is setting the pace.

2. Tim Pawlenty (20%)

There is a sense on the ground from most people I talk to that Bachmann’s campaign is behind in mobilizing for its candidate, but Pawlenty’s campaign is way ahead of their candidate. I can’t foresee a scenario where Tim Pawlenty wins the Iowa Caucuses, because if he way outperforms his polling data in the Straw Poll to win it, the conservative outcry for a rock star like Rick Perry or Sarah Palin will become deafening. A potential Pawlenty victory in the Straw Poll will be perceived more as an indictment of Bachmann’s weakness as a supposed front-runner than a display of strength by Pawlenty. Anything less than a victory in the Straw Poll and it’s difficult for Pawlenty to justify sticking around. He will definitely out-perform his meager polling on August 13th, the only question is to what extent.

3. Ron Paul (16%)

I definitely think Ron Paul can win the Straw Poll. Pawlenty has the best organization, and Bachmann the most supporters, but Paul has the most devoted supporters. And in a fluid situation that might be enough to eke out a Straw Poll win. However, Paul lost a chance in recent weeks to make significant inroads to Iowa’s massive Christian Conservative base, and I don’t believe he can win the Iowa Caucuses without doing so.

4. Mitt Romney (13%)

One little birdie told me based on polling done by his candidate he definitely believes Romney could win the Straw Poll again if he tried. As I have said all along, Romney has a locked-in, almost cult-like base of support that can’t dissuaded no matter what. That percentage is somewhere in the 12-15% range. However, like Paul he has a very low ceiling, and can’t do any better than the 25% he got here four years ago. However, if Perry and Palin are both in the race, Romney’s 2008 total (or slightly less) might be enough to win the Iowa Caucuses in a balkanized field.

5. Rick Santorum (10%)

This is where the second tier begins. I believe Santorum will slightly out-perform his polling data, but he could do even better if he got more aggressive — especially if he tried to whisk away some of Pawlenty’s followers.

6. Newt Gingrich (7%)

I don’t think Gingrich is dead quite yet. He still has a chance to reinvent himself as the outsider — and it’s as the outsider that he’s had his most political success in the past. I also think Gingrich may be “motivated” to keep Perry honest once he gets in the race given what several people now working for Perry did to his campaign.

7. Herman Cain (4%)

A cautionary tale for future rookies: do your homework on your staff and the issues before you run for president.

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Editor’s Note ; The  analysis generously shared with us on White House 2012 by Steve Deace is probably one of the most accurate assessments of the Repubican field in Iowa that there is.  Steve Deace knows how Iowa politics works and how it usually plays out.  For that reason, when it comes to the all  important Iowa Caucuses and where the candidates really stand,  we will be relying on his knowlege, extensive collection of connections, and his proven political instincts.

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