Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Game On? Insider Advantage – Last Poll Iowa 2012 – Romney-Paul-Santorum Tied – Gingrich Stable - Support Shows Uptick – Anyone’s Game

Romney, Paul, Gingrich, Santorum - any combination of wins possible - image from reddogreport.com

The headline fromthe Southern Political Report via Inside Advantage: “Iowa: Romney and Paul Neck and Neck; Santorum Surges; Gingrich Stable: Others…Gone” shows exactly how up in the air the Iowa Caucus is at this late date – in a statistical tie. This particular polling firm has called Iowa correctly in 2004 and 2008, the poll of 729 registered Republican voters taken after the Des Moines Iowa Register Poll has a margin of error of 3.5% gives the following results with a margin of error of plus/minus 3.5%: Romney 23, Paul 22, Santorum 18, Gingrich 16, Perry 10, Bachman 6, Huntsman 2, Other 1, and No Opinion 2. If this is the case, the ground game is going to come into play heavily today – giving those candidates with the most organization the edge – Santorum’s rise is, according to the firm, at the expense of Michelle Bachmann, which may be the result of Santorum’s endorsements from evangelical leaders.

What is most telling is that New Gingrich not only remains steady at the 4th position, but has gained points in this poll, given the amount of negative and misleading advertising placed on behalf of PAC’s in Iowa – the majority coming from Mitt Romney, followed by Ron Paul’s organizations. Gingrich, who had been last, in the middle, first, and then 4th has the opportunity in this particular year to capitalize on the Southern and Midwestern States, where Romney again, remains steady in the 20’s, and Paul’s rankings are dismal – Santorum will remain the wild card, along with Perry going into the South.

In Virginia, where Romney and Paul will remain the only candidates on the ballot, Paul trounced Romney in 2008 – Virginia, a Super Tuesday State, saw its AG at first attempt to change the Commonwealth’s primary rules, allowing all candidates ballot access, however, changed his mind a day later. As the states are proportioning delegates up through Super Tuesday, this will give Ron Paul an edge going forward. Should Paul upset Romney in Virginia, and the balance of the delegate heavy states put Gingrich and Santorum in the lead (as they head into the South) Romney may be out of the race by March – there is little that suggests he can, at this point, go the distance in the primary, with polling continuing to give him numbers steady in the 20’s.

The 2008 polling data from the same firm, gave Huckabee the lead, followed by Romney, Thompson and McCain with Paul coming in 5th above Giuliani with a larger margin of error at 5% (approximate), McCain who finished 4th in Iowa went on to win the nomination. The IA poll numbers 2007: Huckabee 30, Romney 24, Thompson and McCain both at 11%, and the final Iowa rankings were: Huckabee: 34.4, Romney: 25.2, McCain: 13.0, Thompson: 13.4, Paul, 9.9, and Giuliani: 3.4.

A big factor to consider in this race as in 2008, Romney remains at 23 to 25% in all polling, suggesting a repeat performance of 2008 – given the fact that Romney in 2008 not only outspent Huckabee by a wide margin but also was behind a barrage of negative advertising aimed at the former Governor of Arkansas, he could not rise above what is the Romney Benchmark.

Trying to call Iowa in 2012 is, as of this point, impossible – given the fact that there is no one candidate that has a lead outside the statistical margin of error in the top 4. For example, the final numbers could end up with Paul, Santorum, Perry, Gingrich, Romney, or Santorum, Paul, Gingrich, Perry, Romney - (Mindful of the fact that 41% of the Iowa Caucus participants are capable of changing their minds in Caucus – See article on the Des Moines Iowa Register final poll- here) The above reflects a tight race, giving credit to ground games and adding media attention now being shown to Santorum – and the possibility of Romney being pushed back, as Gingrich and Santorum combined have been seen as the “anti-Romney” to Conservatives. Should Romney remain at 22-24% he will place in the top four, however, should the Gingrich, Santorum or Perry supporters on the ground in Iowa, convince a portion of those 41% to change votes from Romney or Paul, the 24% could fall 10 points. It is a statistical nightmare. It is anyone’s guess – and tonight, the world will know the results, and the focus will be on New Hampshire.

This blog believes that Gingrich, given all the polling data will remain steady, and going forward into New Hampshire, will compare and contrast his record with that of Mitt Romney’s, specifically Romney’s time as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, his only hands-on experience in Governing and working with Legislators. From a Bay State Perspective, Gingrich would have the edge would he use simple examples of Romney’s tax policies, while Governor, alone. Romney may blame the Democrat Legislature but it is the Governors’ office in the Commonwealth that has the final say – and a line-item veto. Should Gingers compare and contrast without going dark and negative in the Romney style, he may do much better than expected in New Hampshire, and one must not, in any way shape of form, discount Ron Paul in the Life Free or Die State.

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