Let the Prediction Season begin for Election 2012!
What a year this has been for the Republicans.
First there was a slew of candidates that poured out of the clown car, and frankly not even the most strident conservative could have been proud of the antics that took place. Every few weeks there was another leader of the pack given the weaknesses of the announced candidates. Polling numbers are meaningless as the voters are more undecided than firm for any candidate.
Which bring us to Iowa, the first match-up of the nominating process.
There is no way to know for sure what will happen given that a cold snap could keep caucus-goers at home, or some undefined calculation on the morning of the caucuses could alter how people view a candidate.
Given all that I am wading in early, and making my predictions for next Tuesday night.
I have long felt that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. My feeling in this regard is based on money, organization, and a consistent way Romney has run his campaign. (Consistency on the issues is another matter.) Romney has been a very impressive candidate, and much improved from 4 years ago.
When Romney decided to challenge his opponents in Iowa he did so with precision tactics, with the goal not to come in second, but to win. There is something inevitable about his campaign, and that must be seen even by his Republican opponents.
In addition, as I have stated over and over the establishment wing of the GOP is not going to throw their chances of winning in 2012 away with Tea Party madness. (The Tea Party may be the last to recognize this fact.) I suspect many Iowa caucus-goers vote for a winner, and not for more base motives.
I have also felt that in places like Iowa there is room for a clean-cut campaign. One that lifts the hopes of voters, rather than merely blasting an opponent. This year that means Rick Santorum who has staked out his claim for the evangelical vote with non-stop visits, and all-out begging will make an impression on caucus night. Voters want something more than nasty ads, and the former senator has delivered in that regard, and will benefit as a result.
Ron Paul is the stranger in the Republican tent, in that he does not really belong there given what constitutes GOP thinking at this time. There are however many cult-like followers of Paul, in spite of his anti-gay and racist leanings, which will provide for a night of political intrigue in Iowa. The question is how many of his groupies leave their basements and trek to the local caucus site. I suggest not as many as the polls suggest.
So here is how I see the final results when the Iowa caucuses come to a close on January 3rd.
Romney (by 4 points)
Santorum ( by 2 points over Paul)
Gingrich (this may be my most risky placement…but I am betting his implosion only gains steam in the final days)
Bachmann ( Now go away….)