As Stendhal guessed in his last post, vacation time did indeed coincide with a dwindling of blog posts to zero. But we’re back, and ready to get things rolling again. Preposterous though it may seem, the Iowa caucus is on January 3, i.e. next Tuesday, i.e. 5 days from now!
So what do you think will happen? If you read this blog, we require that you post a prediction. If you don’t, then we’ll… do nothing about it. But come on and join the fun! Here’s my rundown of the also-rans:
Cain – Withdrew from the race. Name might still appear on the ballot, though? Expect a low single-digit but nevertheless hilarious turnout for him.
Huntsman – Whether he might become a viable national candidate for the nomination remains to be seen. I guess not, but even if he is, he will do poorly in Iowa. It has one of the most conservative GOP bases, and he all but conceded it months ago and essentially has not campaigned there.
Bachmann – Her campaign is in disarray, her campaign manager has defected to the Paul campaign, and her peak was months ago. She’s toast.
Gingrich – Peaked too soon, it seems. I never understood his bounce in the polls, and I’m going to assume that his high unlikability will make it difficult for him to win any elections.
Perry – I’m unsure where I stand on my most disliked candidate. The consensus is that he peaked too soon and disastrous debate showings have doomed him. However, he does have a ton of money in his campaign, and his social stances are well in line with Iowa voters. I suspect this will land him somewhere in the middle.
That leaves us with the candidates I expect to finish in the top 3: Romney, Paul, and… Santorum.
Romney: The consensus from months ago was that Romney could survive a poor showing in the conservative state, as long as he followed it up with a convincing win in the more moderate New Hampshire, and then continued to pick up votes as the weaker candidates dropped out and he would emerge as the consensus pick. However, now it seems he is in it to win it in Iowa.
Paul: Expect a full freak-out if he wins. But he really might! His supporters are among the most passionate, and Nate Silver points out that some polls might be underestimating his support. He did well in the Ames straw poll, nearly winning it, and with as many candidates in the field as there are, he might emerge victorious.
Santorum: Hell, why not? Every other candidate has had the anyone-but-Romney surge except poor Rick and Hunstman, so why not Rick, and why not now? He has basically lived in Iowa for months, and has campaigned in all 99 of its counties. His conservative social values are most in sync with what Iowa GOP voters want, too. He’s not nearly as likable, but he might end up as this year’s version of Huckabee.
1) Rick Santorum
2) Mitt Romney
3) Ron Paul
4) Rick Perry
5) Newt Gingrich
after that… who cares?