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Welcome, 2012 presidential race; the predictions begin now
Submitted by Kevin Wuzzardo on Mon, 01/02/2012 - 11:06pm.
Anyone who follows this blog knows there hasn't been much to follow recently. The main reason is "The Rant." With TV time available whenever I want it to share opinions, I haven't had the need, or often the time, to use this space. But with the real start of the 2012 presidential race upon us, that's about to change.
Back in 2008, I had a lot of fun blogging about the presidential race and making predictions. I'm not sure how good those predictions were, but they at least sparked some discussions, so let's do it again.
Now before we get started, let me make a few things very clear. The opinions I express in this and future blogs is mine and mine alone. Also, nothing I write should be construed as any sort of endorsement of a candidate, party, ideal, issue, etc. These blogs are merely my observations (written as objectively as possible) on the process this country uses to select a president.
Now that that's clear, let's get started.
First of all, barring any sort of unforeseen personal/political drama or tragedy, we're going to go ahead and assume President Barack Obama will be the Democratic Party's nominee this fall as he seeks reelection. So all we really need to concern ourselves with at this point is the race for the Republican nomination, which officially starts with the Iowa caucuses.
I won't go into the intricacies of what will happen all across the Hawkeye State in the caucuses, mainly because I don't fully understand it myself, but suffice it to say that it's the first step in Iowa selecting its nominees for the national conventions and the first step in the national nominating process.
If you've been following the Republican race at all, you probably know that just about everyone has been the front-runner with the exception, perhaps, of former ambassador and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. He had some company in that until the last few days, when former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum began surging in the polls in Iowa, leading many to wonder if he can pull out the win. I personally do not think he will.
So who will win the Iowa caucuses? Well, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney continues to hold a slight edge over Texas Rep. Ron Paul in Iowa with Santorum running third. Romney is a little behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the national polls, though they are slightly dated thanks to the holidays, and by most accounts, Gingrich's once surging campaign has collapsed.
Many pundits believe Romney is the GOP's best chance to challenge President Obama in the fall, though he certainly has some significant chinks in his armor. As everyone else has bounced up and down in the polls around him, though, Romney has mostly held steady at or near the top, and so I think the common sense folks in the Corn Belt will see Romeny as a safer bet than the others and give him the edge. Now I don't think Romney will win big, but he will finish first. I also believe Santorum will ride the momentum he's built the last week and slide past Paul into second place.
So there's my top three. Keep in mind, though, that in the six open Republican races since 1976, Iowa has only predicted the eventually nominee three times. As they say, Iowa may not pick the winner, but it always picks the losers. Enter native daughter Michele Bachmann.
The Congresswoman representing part of northern neighbor Minnesota, Bachmann was born in Waterloo, IA. Ironically Iowa may prove to be her Waterloo. After all, if you can't win in your own backyard, where can you win? Just ask Walter Mondale.
After bursting onto the scene in this race over the summer, Bachmann's campaign has fizzled. She routinely polls in the single digits, including in Iowa, where you might think her Midwestern upbringing and very conservative values would play well. At this point, though, she's polling ahead of only the basement-dwelling Huntsman. I have a feeling Santorum's last-minute push may come in part with the help of voters who may like Bachmann but decide Santorum is a better bet to carry their far-right banner. In the long run, I'm not sure either will go far.
The big question will be if Bachmann does finish way back, does she have enough (support, money, momentum) to keep campaigning? Most likely she will at least stay in through New Hampshire and South Carolina, but her numbers aren't much better in those states than they are in Iowa. If she really gets walloped, it could be the end of the road for her. Remember, she doesn't have to finish last to be the biggest loser. Huntsman has basically written off Iowa and is focusing on New Hampshire, where he's fourth in the polls, with a decent chance to pass Gingrich and move into third.
Of course, the real loser in Iowa could be Gingrich. What in the world happened to him? Twice? I mean, his campaign was all but dead over the summer. Remember the video of him walking by himself in a parade in Iowa while Bachmann was surrounded by supporters? Then all of a sudden a month ago, he's up huge in the polls in Iowa. Somehow, though, he managed to lose 20 points in about 20 days. How does that happen?
A few weeks ago Gingrich, who promised to maintain a positive campaign while getting beat up by the competition, boldly said he would win the nomination. Now he'll be lucky to finish fourth in Iowa, and if he manages to slide below Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a former golden boy himself, into fifth, well, it could be the official beginning of the end for Gingrich.
OK, so let's recap. Here's how I see Iowa shaking out (and, yes, I know it doesn't add up to 100% - there will be "others" to get votes):
Now remember, the primary/caucus season is all about momentum and where candidates spend their time and money. New Hampshire follows in a week. Expect much different results. In the meantime, let the games begin!
By: Kevin Wuzzardo