After enduring eight months of speeches, 13 debates, thousands of meet and greet events, and millions of dollars of campaign ads the good people of Iowa will flock to 1,744 caucus locations and cast their vote for the Republican nominee for President of the United States. As the witching hour approaches there are several things which could affect a still very fluid situation.
Enthusiasm - To call the crowds at the numerous candidate events sparse would be kind. Routinely Iowans attending these events are vastly outnumbered by the press. Frightened Iowans have been spotted cowering in the corner besieged by journalists from all over the globe. At times it appears that the Swedes are more interested in these candidates than the locals. Mitt Romney has consistently maintained his “25% of the vote” status for months with the remaining 75% left to be carved among the other candidates. Can Romney finally break through that 25% ceiling? If he can does that mean voters are finally accepting him as the only candidate who can defeat the President.
Romney – Early on the Romney camp did not believe they would do well in Iowa clearly, ceding the win to Ron Paul. But as the months wore on Romney gained his footing in the state and slowly and quietly began to build an infrastructure in case things started turning in his favor. Sensing that he might have a chance to win Iowa and use that victory to secure the nomination quickly, pro Romney super pacs ramped up their efforts, pouring millions of dollars into attack ads against the one opponent who they feared could derail their run to the nomination: Newt Gingrich. You cannot watch a TV show in Iowa without being subjected to a negative ad besmirching the character and capabilities of Newt Gingrich. These ads seem to be working as Gingrich’s numbers have plummeted while Romney maintains his solid 25%. Will Romney’s strategy give him a surprising win or will all the negativity back fire in his face? One thing is certain…anyone winning but Newt is good for the Romney campaign.
Santorum – Rick Santorum is the only candidate to travel to all 99 counties in Iowa. He has knocked on tens of thousands of doors, attended coffee cloches in living rooms and sat around hundreds of kitchen tables. Hampered by his paltry war chest Santorum has done it the old fashion way…and it is working. The Santorum campaign has experienced a huge surge over the past week and now ranks second behind Romney with 16% of the vote. It is Santorum who has benefited most from Newt’s plummeting poll numbers. Can Santorum win this thing and use it as a springboard to stay in the race? It seems more than possible.
Gingrich – The Gingrich campaign has been devastated by tsunami of attack ads purchased by the Romney super pacs. Gingrich, who doesn’t have the funds to fight back, can do little more than challenge Romney to a one on one debate and encourage Iowans to speak out against negative tone of Romney’s ads. Gingrich has done his best to control his temper over the attacks. He has vowed to remain positive and focus his comments on the issues and the President’s record. Up until yesterday he was doing pretty well at keeping that promise. No more! Yesterday a seething Gingrich announced that beginning Wednesday his campaign would spend all the money they raised over the last quarter (9 mil.) to do something none of the other candidates have done thus far…attack Romney. Gingrich attends to lay bear Romney’s record and expose Romney for the fraud he believes Romney to be. Asked yesterday by a CBS commentator Norah O' Donnell if he thought Romney was a liar Gingrich responded simply, forcefully and effectively…”yes”. Gingrich plans to go all out at Romney when they appear together next Sunday on Meet the Press. Gingrich is pissed…and one place Romney does not want to be is sharing a live stage with a pissed Newt Gingrich.
So who will win? The prognosticators say Romney is the favorite with Santorum closing at the finish. Too close to call.
It's time to vote. At the end of the evening we will finally have the only polling result that really matters.