With just over a week to go until the Iowa Caucus, the GOP nomination is still pretty wide open. Although some things have been cleared up, Iowa is still very volitil. GOP hopefuls have not spent as much time in Iowa as in recent years and do not have as many people on the ground. They are instead relying on the many debates and more internet campaigns. Voters in Iowa, like in New Hampshire often relish these face to face encounters that they have had the privilege of in the past elections and many make their decisions based on these encounters. The lack of interaction will lead to more volatility. Now for the state-by-state breakdown:
Iowa- It doesn’t seem like Iowa will be as much of a swing state as in the past. Whoever wins will probably not blow anyone out so it could still be wide open after Iowa. Ron Paul has been leading in the polls and his supports are way more likely to vote for him than say, Newt Gingrich. If Paul doesn’t win, then it is up to Romney, Gingrich, and Perry. Out of these three Perry has the most to gain, As Romney can look good anywhere, plus he’s got New Hampshire coming up, he can afford a second, third, or even fourth place finish. If either of the other two win it will most likely be a lateral move as each have support in South Carolina and New Hampshire. Paul would benefit greatly from a win, But a Perry win could really bring some momentum to a campaign that has been in a free fall since the week after he entered the race.
New Hampshire-It is a little more clearer here, but it will still be a huge state for several second-tier candidates. Huntsman could go a long way in extending his campaign and a surprise win by anyone else could do the same. Huntsman has put all of his eggs in New Hampshire’s basket and if he finishes in the top three his campaign might last until after Florida depending on what he does in South Carolina and Florida. A win for Huntsman would create a real fight in Florida for some Independents and Blue Republicans. A Romney win would simply reaffirm him as what he is- a top rate, intelligent candidate-and perhaps loosen him up a little. New Hampshire being a pretty liberal state, Independents will play a huge part in anyone’s win and hardcore GOPers will probably dismiss whoever wins as a ‘progressive’. Excpect for either Bachmann or Santorum or both to drop out if both have bad showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
South Carolina-So far the most conservative state. Look for Gingrich to have a great showing. Romney will probably also have a good showing. If Huntsman does well in New Hampshire he will be hard pressed to keep the momentum going in South Carolina as he has very little infrastructure in South Carolina and look for him to drop out after this, although if he pulls of a miracle and does well in SC he might have a lot of momentum going into Florida.
To wrap it all up it is a crapshoot. Romney is looking good and so could a lot of other candidates if they get some pieces to fall into place for them. In the end it will be Romney against someone to be named later. And that someone might be able to give Romney a good fight.