Home > Elections > Iowa Caucus Preview: Who Wins And Who Loses?

Iowa Caucus Preview: Who Wins And Who Loses?

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The first big jewel on the road to the November 2012 presidential election is almost upon us.  On Wednesday, January 3rd, the Iowa caucus will be the first leg in what could be a long and arduous road towards the Republican presidential nomination.

The latest polling in Iowa indicates that it’s literally still anybody’s race to win.  Polls had indicated that Ron Paul had pulled ahead in Iowa but today’s numbers show that Mitt Romney may have grabbed a small lead back.  Newt Gingrich who had been surging in the last month has promptly crashed back to earth and now Rick Santorum is the latest to experience a mini-surge thanks to Christian conservative voters.

The point is that it’s still completely up in the air as to what will happen on Wednesday.  Candidates will likely say that their showing in Iowa will be a positive regardless of what happens but there are true good and bad scenarios for each candidate.  Let’s run down the best and worst case scenario for each Republican candidate (numbers in parentheses indicate the latest Real Clear Politics polling averages in Iowa as of December 28th).

Mitt Romney (21.8%)

Best Case Scenario:  Romney rides his status as Republican front-runner to a solid victory in Iowa.  He uses the momentum from the caucuses to carry him to a big win in New Hampshire and eventually to the Republican Party’s nomination.

Worst Case Scenario:  Romney experiences a repeat of 2008 where he loses Iowa and his campaign isn’t able to recover.  Ron Paul wins in Iowa, Rick Santorum wins the Christian vote and Romney slides to a disappointing third place finish.

Ron Paul (20.8%)

Best Case Scenario:  Despite a late slip in the polls, Paul is able to hang on for a victory in Iowa.  The win boosts his polling numbers in upcoming primaries and he’s finally taken seriously as a contender for the Republican nomination.

Worst Case Scenario:  Paul can’t sustain the spike in polling numbers and finishes behind Romney, Gingrich and the upstart Santorum.  He can’t regain the momentum he had and decides not to run for President as a third party candidate.

Newt Gingrich (15.3%)

Best Case Scenario:  Gingrich is able to turn things around at the last minute and pull off a surprising victory.  He wins subsequent primaries in South Carolina and Florida and reestablishes himself as the one to beat for the Republican nomination.

Worst Case Scenario:  The polls weren’t lying.  Gingrich fails to finish in the top three and slides back into obscurity.  Mitt Romney or Ron Paul establishes themselves as the presumptive candidate and Gingrich drops out of the race sooner than anticipated.

Rick Santorum (12.3%)

Best Case Scenario:  Santorum rides the late wave of support from Christian voters all the way to a runner-up finish in Iowa.  He’s unable to win the nomination but remains in the race longer than expected and stays relevant in the national discussion.

Worst Case Scenario:  With so many candidates in the mix, Santorum slips back to a 6th place finish and is never again regarded as a serious candidate for the Republican nomination.

Rick Perry (10.5%)

Best Case Scenario:  Voters are able to ignore Perry’s campaign and debate gaffes and the Texas governor is able to crack the top three in Iowa behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.  It provides him a temporary redemption before he’s forced to drop out by the Florida primary.

Worst Case Scenario:  Voters aren’t able to ignore Perry’s campaign and debate gaffes and the Texas governor finishes nowhere near the top three in Iowa.  This is the final nail in the coffin for a once-promising campaign and Perry is forced to drop out.

Michele Bachmann (9.5%)

Best Case Scenario:  Thanks to the crowded middle of the Republican pack, Bachmann sneaks into third place.  The surprising finish earns her campaign some additional Tea Party support.

Worst Case Scenario:  Bachmann continues as the forgotten candidate, finishes near the bottom of the pack and quickly drops out of the race.

Jon Huntsman (3.0%)

Best Case Scenario:  Huntsman is able to garner a high single digit result in Iowa and earns an extra look from swing voters who hadn’t previously considered his candidacy.

Worst Case Scenario:  The results in Iowa confirm what the polls have told us all along.  He has little support to draw from and it’s just a matter of time before he’s forced to drop out of the race.

What say you?  Who do you think has the most to win or lose in Wednesday’s Iowa Caucus vote?  Feel free to comment below.

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  1. December 29, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I agree completely, with the slight exception of my favorite candidate – Huntsman. I don’t think his performance in Iowa matters much at all. He hasn’t campaigned there. In fact, I think the performance of Romney, Paul and Gingrich in Iowa are more important than his own. If any of those three fall short, those are votes for Huntsman to pick up in NH. That’s especially true for Romney and Gingrich. If Romney runs away with Iowa, though, that’s bad news for Huntsman.

    • December 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      I have to admit I’m getting a little more intrigued by your guy Huntsman. I just think his time is going to be up sooner rather than later. He just doesn’t have the traction.

  2. December 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    None of them leaving me feeling warm and fuzzy. 🙂

    • December 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      I get that slightly intrigued feeling by a couple of them. But warm and fuzzy? No, I don’t get that either.

  3. December 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    The only GOP/Tea Party candidate that doesn’t scare the pee out of me is Romney, who is a spaghetti spine that would be easily bullied in the WH, much like Obama has been. Maybe the Democrats can do the bullying. My hope of course is that the Democrats capture both Houses (Senate and Representatives) and the WH. I hope that Hillary moves in in 2016 so that we can clean up the Supreme Court which is so right wing and pro-corporate that it’s not even funny. That is my hope.

    • December 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      I’m actually worried about what the Supreme Court will do with Obamacare in 2012. I can easily see it getting overturned. I think the elections of 2012 could be a reversal of 2010 i.e. seeing Republican-won seats in Congress returning to the Democrats.

  4. December 30, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Never so happy to hear anything as the fact that Gingrich crashed. I know you think he’s okay, but I think he’s a boor and an oaf! But thanks for the daily info!

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