Novak: In Iowa It’ll Be Obama (Clinton Third) And Romney
Columnist Robert Novak, in his newsletter, is now calling it for Iowa: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republicans and Senator Barack Obama for the Democrats — and Hillary Clinton third behind Obama and Senator John Edwards.
This is a topsy-turvy election season when polls resemble see-saws used by hyperactive school-kids, but Novak offers a detailed analysis. Some highlights:
Ever since finishing second in the Iowa straw poll last August, Huckabee steadily climbed here in Iowa, aided by his evangelical pedigree, his sincerity and the fresh-face factor, and less critical press coverage than any other candidate. Polls of likely Republican caucus-goers consistently showed Huckabee ahead throughout December, but more recent surveys are a mixed bag, showing slippage by Huckabee.
Huckabee’s press conference fiasco seemingly didn’t help — but there are now accounts coming out quoting his famous consultant Ed Rollins and others saying that Huckabee lost a ton of money by pulling the ad…which was shown anyway to reporters. This is calling making lemons out of lemonade from the way these accounts read (sympathetic).
In the end, though, Novak believes Romney’s $$$$ will trump all (and reports say Romney is spending a lot of his own money):
Romney is close or leading in the post-Christmas polls. This is probably good enough for him. He has a much bigger team in Iowa and much more money to spend than do Huckabee and the other Republican candidates. Romney’s campaign should be better than Huckabee’s at getting its supporters to their caucuses.
His final call on the GOP side:
1st Place: Mitt Romney
2nd Place: Mike Huckabee
3rd Place: Fred Thompson
4th Place: John McCain
He also believes it is “not out of the question” that Ron Paul could finish third — which would be a HUGE story and vindication for Paul’s supporters.
On the Democratic front, he has a lot to say about Obama but here’s a tiny taste:
The similarities between Obama 2008 and Howard Dean in 2004 are real and could show themselves Thursday night. Obama is the new, fresh face in the race with youthful, enthusiastic, and idealistic supporters. For Dean, that same formula translated into caucus-day bust. Will the same happen to Obama?
Obama leads in most polls, and significantly in some. His negatives are much lower than Clinton’s, and his positives are higher than Edwards’. He has as much money as Clinton and the edge in enthusiasm. However, his campaign team in Iowa is the least experienced of the top three. He could flame out like Dean, but all considered, he has to be viewed as the favorite.
And Hillary Clinton?
Hillary’s organization may be the strongest, but her negatives are the highest. Her hardball tactics against Obama will hurt her. For the Democrats, who have a viability threshold of at least 15% in each precinct, second choice matters, and that is where Hillary’s negatives will hurt her. She doesn’t appear to be the second choice for very many voters at all.
He feels Edwards is the the second choice for many and will pass Clinton in the polling. And in the end?
1st Place: Barack Obama
2nd Place: John Edwards
3rd Place: Hillary Clinton
4th Place: Bill Richardson
FOOTNOTE: A new Rasmussen poll has the same findings as Novak’s predictions:
–Romney first among GOPers.
–Obama first among Democrats, Edwards second and Clinton third.
The biggest surprise: it has John McCain coming in THIRD in Iowa — which could give McCain more Big Mo in New Hampshire, where Romney has been denounced by the Union Leader’s publisher. A few sections:
Fair enough. Politics isn’t beanbag.
But Romney is apparently so desperate that he has chosen distortion over facts. He is claiming on TV that Sen. McCain supports Social Security for illegal immigrants. That is patently and demonstrably false. In fact, McCain wants to make sure that LEGAL immigrants have their Social Security taxes properly accounted for so that the rest of U.S. taxpayers aren’t footing that bill, too. Anyone who cares for the details can find them at factcheck.org. That respected nonprofit Web site, in an unusually harsh criticism, dubbed Romney’s claims “Mitt Malarkey.”
The last time Social Security was so blatantly misused in a Presidential Primary race, the victim was Barry Goldwater. That senator from Arizona wasn’t able to fend off the distortion in time to win that primary. This time, we think the voters of New Hampshire will catch on.