Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
Less than a week from Iowa caucuses, we've got a barnburner of a race shaping up. Mitt Romney, long trailing behind Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, appears to have vaulted into second place and climbing, while Newt has dropped from 27 percent in early December into third place with just under 15 percent of respondents.
Here are the latest Real Clear Politics polling numbers for the field:
Ron Paul 23.3%
Mitt Romney 21%
Newt Gingrich 14.7%
Rick Perry 12%
Michelle Bachmann 8.7%
Rick Santorum 7.7%
John Huntsman 4%
These percentages will probably adjust before January 3, but may not change radically. We also need to always be reminded that polls and turnout on caucus night are not the same even though they have been fairly reliable indicators in past caucuses.
What if the favorites Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul failed to place in the top three in Iowa? For the three candidates that dominate public opinion surveys it’s important to maintain their first, second or third place position. Fourth place would be dangerous if not fatal.
The caucuses are an expectations game and there is not much time to recover althout of course, several past contenders have not done well in Iowa yet gone on to get the nomination.
What happens if the favorites win in Iowa? If the three favorites won in Iowa it widens their the opportunity to compete in New Hampshire and South Carolina and it ensures that they will receive financial contributions from groups and individuals who fund political campaigns.
What about those who will lose in Iowa? Candidates who have not mastered the contests in Iowa and reached one of the top three slots are Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, perhaps Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, former Utah governor John Huntsman.
We predict that Huntsman continues his campaign in the state of New Hampshire where he has invested all of his efforts this year. His problem has been that the Republican Party is more conservative and more Protestant than him - he's a Mormon. After New Hampshire Huntsman probably has no future. He has even closed down his Florida and New Hampshire primary operations. One publication said, “ … his path to the nomination is wholly dependent on trying to score an upset in the nation’s first primary.”
Bachmann and Santorum do not have enough financial resources to continue after Iowa, and I assume that both will support one of the other candidates.
Rick Perry has enough financial support to continue his campaign through New Hampshire and especially in the key states of South Carolina and Florida. If he reaches first, second or third place in any of these contests, Perry will continue until at least the 11 Super Tuesday contests on March 6.