Where Do We Stand In Iowa?

Folks, it’s time to break out the crystal ball and predict what will happen in Iowa tomorrow.

(Just kidding.)

While there’s no clear leader in Iowa, Mitt Romney might be considered such, since he has led the polls the most consistently. However, the horse-trading nature of Iowa’s process means that Romney has no guarantee of success. In addition, the politically-attuned Iowa caucusers may reconsider support for him, since Romney recently expressed support for a national VAT tax.

Then there’s Ron Paul. The nature of the Iowa caucuses gives Paul an advantage: 17-year-olds can participate, independents can register Republican the day of the caucus, and active-duty military personnel registered to vote in Iowa but stationed elsewhere can’t participate as absentees. These demographic ‘slivers’ taken together could make a big difference for Paul. On the other hand, Paul’s racist, bigoted, and generally loony newsletters may make him too toxic for good-natured midwesterners.

Rick Santorum has seen a recent surge in polling. Whether this is an aberration or a genuine swing of support to him is anyone’s guess; personally, I’ve stopped giving serious weight to polling, since the frequency with which the results change leads me to believe recent polls are unreliable.

Newt Gingrich has fallen slightly in polling, now in fourth place according to some polls behind Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. If one is to believe the polling (see above), this would indicate that caucusgoers are growing wiser about Mr. Gingrich’s poor Second Amendment record, long history of supporting socialized medicine, admiration of big-government historical figures, and his track record of poor leadership, and have decided to favor a more stable candidate.

And then there’s Rick Perry, ostensibly in fifth place. Rick could have an excellent showing tomorrow, given the nature of the Iowa process: Iowa is a state where second choices count almost as much as first choices. Once a candidate is disqualified in the caucus process, that candidate’s supporters can re-negotiate to back another candidate. Michele Bachmann is likely to be disqualified first; and if the “Santorum surge” is an aberration, and Santorum doesn’t perform well, his supporters and Bachmann’s supporters will most likely end up backing Perry as a second choice, which could push Perry above Gingrich.

As I noted a few days ago, things are changing among Republicans in Iowa, even the generally-accepted support for ethanol subsidies.

Whatever happens tomorrow, one thing is certain: It’s going to be a nail-biter for political junkies.

(Image via Wikipedia.org)