After a zillion (any number beyond what is useful) opinion polls, and
pols (and pundits) with opinions, we are now going to have some results
regarding the 2012 election from the folks who count, that is, the voters.
The fluid caucus race in Iowa is turning out to be a memorable political
adventure, thanks to the unprecedented pre-caucus candidate debates.
After a series of poll "bubbles" which thrust Michele Bachmann, Rick
Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich (in that order) forward, the final
bubble appears to be that of Ron Paul, a perennial presidential candidate
under various political party guises who appeals to a devoted claque in
the Hawkeye state. Iowa voters have so far resisted acclaiming the early
frontrunner Mitt Romney. Unfortunately, for the Republican party and
for Republicans in Iowa, a Paul caucus victory will render the state's
caucus irrelevant to the 2012 presidential contest outcome, and elevate
the importance of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida (whose
primaries follow). But it's a free country, and Iowa GOP voters will
choose their own political caucus destiny.
Mr. Gingrich has challenged the conventional wisdom that grass roots
organization is what counts most in Iowa, and for about two weeks, he
seemed to be correct. Now his greatest hope is a "hail Mary" issue he
introduced on national TV, asserting that if he is elected president, he
may, if the issue is serious enough, ignore U.S. Supreme Court rulings
(citing no less than Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin
Delano Roosevelt as his precedents). It's an issue likely to be received
well in Iowa, and I would assume that the Gingrich campaign will flood
the airwaves with ads about this in the days before the caucus.
If this does not re-surge the Gingrich campaign, it would appear that
the race is down to Mr. Paul and Mr. Romney. There is little expectation
that Mr. Romney would win in Iowa, so if he does, and follows it with
an expected triumph in New Hampshire, it could be the beginning of
the "momentum" he needs to clinch the nomination.
Michele Bachmann is literally pouring it on in Iowa, and is expected to
do better than her poll numbers indicate she would. Mr. Perry has spent
a lot of ad money, and Mr. Santorum has worked the state relentlessly
for months, so any pundit who suggests he or she can predict the outcome
is probably living in a dreamland.
But why must we have a predicted winner? The important point is that
at last GOP voters are speaking their minds, and will continue to do so
in the GOP race until June, and then officially in Tampa.
After that, there will be an historic campaign with opposing candidates
more at odds, and with more differing visions, than any in memory, and
possibly, with more at stake in the lives of those who read this.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Barry Casselman
All rights reserved.