With Iowa upon us in just 24 hours, we'll forgo a deep look at the other polls this week and only look at Iowa.
Last week in Iowa-
Ron Paul was leading by a .5% smidge. Mitt Romney was hot on his heels, and Newt Gingrich has dropped into no man's land. And Michele Bachmann, after some big claims about how she was winning was spotted back in 5th place.
And then, out of nowhere in midweek, new numbers came out to show Rick Santorum was suddenly in third place.
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And we're down to the finish line, where all we can do is it and wait to see if the polls really do reflect the real voters.
Romney has the overall average lead by 1.3%, with Ron Paul too close for comfort. Rick Santorum really is in third place consistently 2-3 points ahead of Newt Gingrich (who would have ever imagined that?). And Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, and Jon Huntsman can all pack up and go to New Hampshire now. Oh wait, Huntsman already did.
You have to be impressed with that little tiny brown line of Santorum's on the chart. All slow and steady for so long, then jumping up at the last second. Good job, Little Brown Line. You are the little inchworm that could!
So who will it be, folks? Romney or Paul in the winner's circle?
I just want to throw this out there-
The Little Inchworm That Could could also really throw things off tomorrow. Take a good look at all the lines on the cart. Do you see how many sudden spikes there are? Santorum really and truly could be spiking serendipitously here. Iowa is a big bandwagon state. They like to jump on the next big thing (as seen by the roller coaster of lines). The two most recent polls show Santorum within 4 points of Paul and Romney. If that momentum carries for another 24 hours (and go look at all the political headlines- Santorum is the news), he really could have a serious chance of winning Iowa. With the margin of error on these things, plus his growing momentum, we really could see an upset tomorrow.
(I'll be glued to my TV set, live updating I am sure.)
At the same time, Romney, according to these polls, could be the winner. And if he wins New Hampshire next week (which we have every reason to think he could), that would be history making. The only non-incumbent candidate to win in both states since 1972 is Bob Dole in 1996. (For reasons I cannot explain yet, all data stops in 1972.) This would be a massive victory for Mitt Romney to say the least.
But then again, it is just as likely that Ron Paul could win Iowa tomorrow. He is more than a good 20 points down from Romney in New Hampshire right now, but in second place. An Iowa victory for him could easily get him a huge uptick. But would it put him within striking distance of Romney. But the real threat in New Hampshire is if Santorum wins in Iowa. We can easily expect to see support for Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, and maybe even Paul swing in his favor. A Santorum victory in Iowa could mean an upset everywhere. Or not. He could win Iowa, Romney will win New Hampshire, and Gingrich could (maybe, possibly) still win South Carolina. Which would lead to one very crazy Super Tuesday the following week in several states.
If Romney wins both states though, expect to see Gingrich start to seriously falter in South Carolina. Romney is in a distant, but strong second there. He could very easily overtake and pass Gingrich if Iowa and NH go well.
And if that happens... well, things could get very interesting in Florida and elsewhere. Well, interesting if you are a Romney fan anyway.
Get details and some fun facts about the Iowa Caucus here.
Food for thought-
Romney lost in Iowa in 2008 with 29,949 votes, or 25.2%, to Mike Huckabee's 40,841 votes ( 34.4%).
It is incredibly conceivable that Romney can win Iowa this time around with less voters than he had when he lost. In 2008 there were roughly 120,000 voters in the caucus. If that same number holds true tomorrow (which is unlikely, as voter turnout is expected to be low- which irritates me to no end. The state insists on being "first in the nation," gobbling up campaign monies, dominating politics, getting all sorts of kickbacks, and then they don't even bother to all come out for the caucus? RUDE!)- and Romney gets his expected 23%, that is only 27,600 votes. He could very easily win with less than it took to lose. Go figure.