With only one day until the Iowa caucuses the GOP has still been unable to get closer to anointing a front-runner to unseat Barack Obama from the White House. Somehow the process still seems more like a low rating reality show than a process to pick a presidential candidate. Iowa is very important to win because the winner has won the Republican nomination 50% of the time. The Hawkeye State is probably even more important this year for the candidates because Mitt Romney is almost assured to win the New Hampshire Primary just a week later (he resides in New Hampshire some of the time, and was governor of a neighboring state). Here is the Answers From Men betting guide to the Iowa Caucuses.
Governor Romney reminds me of the early 1990s movie starring Bill Murray Groundhog Day. Romney says the same stuff, wears the same clothes, and has more polish than the pistol of a 1920s mobster. He doesn’t trip over himself like the other candidates have thus far, and it’s serving him well. Romney is completely substance over style, and he’s like a point guard in basketball who doesn’t turn the ball over, but doesn’t create much offense either. What the man does create is capital. His campaign has raised more than his 3 closest opponents combined, and he has very opulent super PACs saying the incendiary stuff that isn’t good for his image. Even if Iowans don’t love him they like the idea that people assume the Iowa winner wins the nomination. Romney is clearly the most electable, and this fact alone should get him the victory. He’s going to either win or finish in 2nd place by a razor thin margin.
Odds to win Iowa: 2 to 1
Dr. Paul has gone from a fringe 1st tier candidate to a guaranteed top 2 finish in the 1st caucus. He has a legion of fervent supporters, and he’s raised enough money to scare the establishment. Recently his image has lost a bit of tarnish because of the rehashed issue of the racist newsletters published in his name 20 years ago. He has disavowed the papers years ago, but now that he’s a top candidate, people are searching for skeletons (By the way, I hope the word disavow goes disappears in 2012. It seems as if politicians have found a new toy, and it’s the word disavow. I’m frankly tired of it; there are a litany of other words in the English language that mean the exact same thing). I don’t think people should be searching for skeletons; his trust in the free market, foreign policies, and economic ideas leave him vulnerable enough to a solid attack. At any rate, people are tired of big government, regulations, and corporate greed/fraud, so Paul’s outsider/underdog/free thinker message absolutely resonates. The huge issue that may keep Paul from winning Iowa is the one thing that gives Romney the chance to win … his electability. Paul would never beat Obama in a general election, so his odds of winning the GOP nomination are rather remote. It may also keep him from winning Iowa, but not from getting 2nd place.
Odds to win Iowa: 3 to 1
Left for dead just a week ago, the former Pennsylvania senator has skyrocketed in the polls completely unexpectedly. Over the last 4 days his numbers have risen more than anyone, and he’s pulled to virtually even with Paul and Romney if one considers numbers from just the last 2 days. Santorum has been doing old skool [sic] campaigning all over Iowa, and that has apparently resonated well with prospective voters. Not only that, Santorum has won the support of evangelical Christian groups that Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann couldn’t seem to fully secure. What’s more, between the favorites to win the state (Romney, Paul, and Santorum), only the former senator has a reputation of being consistently conservative. The one possible monkey wrench for Santorum is finances. Through September he’s only raised about $1.3 million, roughly the combined total of Thad McCotter, Fred Kargen, and Buddy Roemer. Haven’t heard of those three candidates? Pretty much no one else has, either. Consider that Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race in August, and his campaign has nearly 4 times the amount of capital as Santorum’s (just for a start comparison, Romney has $32 million in campaign money just waiting to be spent). Maybe Santorum will catch lightning in a bottle finish in the top 3 in Iowa, and be the non-Romney candidate that the GOP has been looking for since the beginning of June, but he’s got to increase his bottom line (in a recent interview Santorum intimated that he’s raised more money in the last 3-4 days than he has in the past 3-4 months, so things may get very interesting).
Odds to win Iowa: 5 to 1
The former Speaker’s epic rise and fall in the polls shows that with no obvious front runner money can be a game changer. Gingrich had a huge lead in Iowa and nationally thanks to very good performances at the debates. Unfortunately for the Speaker the last debate was on December 15th. Ever since that time the high income campaigns of Romney, Paul, and Rick Perry have assailed Gingrich and terminated all of his momentum. The Speaker was completely powerless to stop the assault (he has only raised approx. $2.9 million), so he called for Romney to “disavow” the super PACs that were the source of the negative television ads. Obviously Romney declined Gingrich’s overtures, and the result is a probable 4th place finish for a guy who had such a commanding lead that during an interview on December 1st he said, “I’m gonna be nominee.” Oops.
Odds to win Iowa: 20 to 1
All one can say about Governor Perry’s campaign is what could have been. Reports have come out that explain infighting and the comedy of errors that existed between his original campaign team and his new one. Apparently the old group never did any polling, didn’t have actual debate practices, and they failed to have a manual which listed Perry’s policies and opinions that would probably be subject to potential adversarial attacks. At any rate, Perry has been all over Iowa airwaves because he has piles of campaign money. Unfortunately for the Texas Governor his message is confusing. At the beginning of the race he focused on creating jobs and fixing the tax code, something his Texas roots might have made him successful in doing. As his numbers plummeted he tried to turn into a Washington outsider. He touted such nonsense as making Congressmen work part time, and eliminating several governmental agencies. Perry then started pandering to evangelical Christians and shifted his focus to gays in the military, prayer in school, and abortion. Not that these aren’t important issues, but they’re not high brow enough to elevate a fringe candidate. If those weren’t enough mistakes, throw in his missing the deadline to be on the Virginia ballot and the subsequent silly lawsuit, things have gotten ugly. His campaign strategy appears to be all over the place, but his poll numbers have been consistently going in the same direction … straight down into the toilet.
Odds to win Iowa: 100 to 1
Any chance Bachmann had to win Iowa, and the odds were extremely remote, ended when her Iowa campaign chairman Kent Sorenson abruptly quit and joined Ron Paul’s staff. In all reality it was simply the coup de grace, of a failed campaign, as the Minnesota Representative was easily in last place in essentially every Iowa poll. Now she should drop out of the race and focus on trying to be the eventual nominee’s vice president choice.
Odds to win Iowa: 10,000 to 1