Quote of the Day: Iowa Caucus Myths and Realities
CNN independent analyst John Avlon gives us our political Quote of the Day on the myths versus reality of tomorrow’s Iowa caucus. This must-read-in-full article gives us this chunk at the end:
One of the real questions in this caucus is whether retail politics matters as much as it used to. Mitt Romney basically dissed the state for the first 10 months of 2011, still stinging from his expensive rejection in 2008. But his well-funded campaign was able to buy aspects of a statewide organization and negative ads to tear down rivals.
The bottom line: money still seems to work in American politics, moreso now than pressing the flesh. I’m reading Chris Matthews Kennedy book (DESPITE his off-putting, endless hype to make money selling his book) and it is a world away from 2012. MORE:
One of the fascinating aspects of the Romney campaign is that he seems to have a glass ceiling of 25% — the same percent of the caucus vote he received in 2008. The other candidates have famously traded the other 75% of the vote over the past several months. If the deck is shuffled just right, with a number of other candidates in the mid-teens, Romney can win Iowa in this crowded conservative field.
And if he wins Iowa on Tuesday night, his months-long double-digit lead in New Hampshire will solidify and he will be almost assured of winning the first two states, well on the way to winning the nomination.
Additionally, he has the weight of precedent on his side: The front-runners who have conventional wisdom behind them tend to win the Republican nomination eventually, after the party flirts with a dark horse.
Indeed: Romney has greatly improved as a candidate, the flip-flopping charge that can easily be documented (and has been by the media and foes) is now old hat in the primaries, and he wisely guarded his campaign bankroll, not giving into being low in the polls elsewhere, until he could put it to devastating use destroying Newt Gingrich by throwing Newt’s baggage out into the center of the Iowa electorate room for all to gaze at.
But Ron Paul is a wild card. His supporters are by far the most dedicated, if not the most numerous. They will turn out come sleet or snow (though the temperature is supposed to be above average). The January 3 caucuses are smack in the middle of winter break for universities, but Paul’s younger supporters might just come back early to vote for their hero.
And Paul’s supporters must know this: this is the last chance for that Ron Paul. It’s unlikely he’ll have a better year and he is not getting any younger.
If Rick Santorum’s recent momentum continues, he can claim the evangelical mantle as the consistent social conservative alternative to Romney, the man he endorsed in 2008. He provides at least one other clear point of contrast — Santorum has been hammering away at middle class and blue collar issues, while Romney embodies the one percent of the wealthiest Americans.
The most dire scenario for Romney would be a Newt or Perry surprise surge, which the polls say seems unlikely. But either of their campaigns could come out of Iowa with new momentum and at least a real chance of winning South Carolina and possibly Florida. Three out of four states by the end of January makes a candidate extremely likely to win the party’s nomination.
The countdown to the Iowa caucus can now be measured in hours, instead of weeks or months. Whatever you think about the disproportionate influence this heartland state has on our politics, it cannot be ignored. The presidential election year of 2012 is here. And on Tuesday night, the race for the White House will really kick off.
No matter what happens a segment of the conventional wisdom will die Tuesday night when the votes are counted. It’ll be quietly swept under the rug and new conventional wisdom will be brought out until it, too, is undercut by actual reality. And it’ll be swept under the rug.
The reality: no one knows how this will turn out and we won’t know until the voters are counted.
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