Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Things are going to be a bit less consistent than usual around here for a bit. Today and tomorrow I'm going to be guest-blogging for Steve Benen over at Washington Monthly. I hope you'll all stop by! I may wind up posting a couple items here, but mostly I'll be out.

After that, I should be back here on Friday as usual, but blogging will be light early next week while I'm returning from my niece's Bat Mitzvah (I should manage to post What Matters and the Sunday Questions more or less on time). By the middle of next week, however, things should be relatively normal. I think.

As long as I'm gone, though, why don't I leave you with a challenge. We're just under three weeks out, and Nate Silver is doing weird and wonderful things with the polling numbers, so how about some Iowa predictions? Care to give it a try?


  1. I know it is crazy but I suspect that Ron Paul will win Iowa. Newt is falling. Mitt is going nowhere. Paul's supporters will show up in a blizzard.

  2. Was that a reference to Uncle Willie doing weird and wonderful things with alcohol?

  3. I think Newt holds on to win. Paul places second. But the surprise will be Perry finishes third. Those culture war ads we all sneer at will turn out to be effective in a GOP contest in Iowa. Romney finishes an embarrassing 4th on his way to being knocked out of the race after losing the first 4 contests. In hindsight all the pundits realize he was no more a plausible GOP Presidential candidate than Rudy Guiliani was in 2008.

  4. Agree with dm -- Paul benefits from both the dissaray of the field and the fact that he's the only candidate who built much of a ground game. An evangelical candidate could call on church networks to compete with Paul's organization, but Huckabee ain't in the race.

  5. This is so interesting, so many ways it could go.

    If I had to make a guess, I'd agree with Ron E above. Newt holds on, Paul 2nd, a Perry surprise at 3rd, and Romney comes in a disappointing 4th. If Newt does well in New Hampshire, the GOP falls in love with Perry again in time for South Carolina? Maybe, maybe the "Huntsman is conservative! Really!" meme takes hold? RON PAUL IS THE 2012 GOP NOMINEE??? (ok, maybe not that last one)

    It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks.

  6. Predicted order of Finish:


  7. Newt
    Others of no consequence.

    And the top 3 are all really close to each other

  8. If "Paul's supporters will show up in a blizzard", his campaign should really spend a few bucks to hire Will Bailey. If he can make it rain on election day in Southern California, snow-on-demand in Iowa in January ought to be a snap. Heh.

    I also think the organization and youth enthusiasm is likely to tip the caucuses to Ron Paul in the end. So for Iowa, today I'd predict:

    Paul 30%
    Gingrich 24%
    Romney 15%
    Perry 13%

    If anything, it appears that the last debate helped Bachmann and Santorum as much as Newt took at least a small hit from being the frontrunner target. (Or is his bubble starting to burst like the other FotM's? Could be.)

    I don't think anything happening in Iowa is generating new support for Romney though.

    The question is what a Ron Paul win might do to New Hampshire. They're big on 'freedom' there, so Paul's libertarian bent could do well, particularly with a boost from an Iowa win. And then you have to decide if Paul would take voters from Romney, from Gingrich, or equally from both.

    If Paul can somehow make a double in IA and NH, it may be South Carolina and Florida to determine who the alternative may be going forward. And those states aren't going to work for Romney. 0-for-4 could well put Mitt out before he ever gets to Super Tuesday.

  9. Bobbo,

    One of my favorite lines ever, yup.

  10. In the most recent polls Paul is almost tied with Gingrich for 1st/2nd in IA/NH. If he manages to come in first or second in these states, the question will be whether he can transfer that nationwide, where he's still at 8-10%. I think he can. He is infamous for his die-hard supporters, but there's also a reservoir of soft support out there that is generally ignored. This is especially the case with a candidate that the press has conditioned voters to believe "can't win." Soft supporters will rarely vote for such a person, until they realize he or she really CAN win.

    I never thought I'd say this, but it looks like Paul has a legitimate shot at winning the nomination.

  11. I feel so sorry for Mitt. He's the most sensible choice for the general election (Paul would be slaughtered), but the girl he's waiting for keeps dancing with all these bad-boys. He's even tried to be more bad-boy himself, but it's not working.

    I do think he'll win in NH. I was up there this past weekend, and Romney had the most and largest signs. Ron Paul is second.

    Romney will do well enough to stay in the race past Florida, and he'll have stronger wins after that. Gingrich will win a few, but people will find him less and less charming. He'll enjoy the campaign, not get nasty to his rivals, and be cordial when he bows out.

    Paul will keep up the fight, but he doesn't have a shot. He'll have to decide whether to run as an independent.

    I don't think IA is going to be important, unless Paul does really well (1st or very high 2nd) and the same in NH. If Paul gets two wins or near-wins, he'll finally get some press. Once he gets some coverage, the merely curious will drop out, and he'll have only his die-hard 15%. (Because he really is Nader crazy.)

  12. Newt's bubble pops right as Paul's rises (Paul's will be temporary, just like everyone else, but comes at the most opportune time), and Perry inches back up a bit for an incredibly close outcome.

    Newt 24
    Paul 22
    Romney 21
    Perry 19
    field 14

  13. I think Perry will finish second or third, with his "surprisingly good" showing giving him credibility as the ABR candidate going forward. Gingrich finishes fourth or worse, letting the stale air out of his balloon. Repubs will convince themselves that Perry is the best person to debate Obama, provided the playing field is leveled by denying Obama the assistance of a teleprompter. (Okay, that last bit is a little facetious.)

  14. > I never thought I'd say this, but it looks like Paul has a legitimate shot at winning the nomination.

    Whoa, hold on there, cowboy ;)

    I said I can see Ron Paul winning Iowa (due to the low turnout associated with caucuses as well as Paul's organization and enthusiastic supporters) and New Hampshire (due to that state's "live free or die" libertarian bent and a bump from an Iowa win)...

    But Ron Paul has no shot of winning the Republican nomination. Period. Full stop.

    His anti-military views and position of "Let Israel take care of herself" (he condemned Operation 'Cast Lead') disqualify him with at least half of the GOP. It wasn't just that they didn't want two old men doddering on stage that Paul wasn't invited to speak in Minneapolis in support of McCain's candidacy.

    Paul is rising as much as anything because he's taking advantage of Romney and Gingrich starting to go negative on each other. No one is hitting Ron Paul right now. It could be that the 'establishment GOP' is allowing Paul to help them turn back Newt in the early states. But I guaran-damn-tee you that if Paul starts to rise to a point where people in general start talking him up as a legit threat to win, he's going to be under siege from every corner of the Republican party that isn't the Libertarian wing.

    (Possibly there is a small contingent of what's left of the Tea Party that would stand with Paul on fiscal issues, but I would say that segment is 1/3rd of the Tea Party at best - there's many more that will go along with whatever Freedom Works feeds them, and the Kochs will never support Ron Paul in a primary. (They would likely secretly back Obama over Paul if it came to that, just for the sake of defense industries.)

  15. JS: I think it's very unlikely, but it seems to me Ron Paul's chances are definitely less than zero at this point.

    Your analysis misconstrues Paul in a number of ways... On Israel, he doesn't care what they do, as long as the US stays out of it (he was one of the few Congressmen who DIDN'T condemn Israel's attack on Saddam's reactors.)

    And if Paul is "anti-military," then why did he get more contributions from active-duty military personnel than every other candidate (Obama included) put together?

    As for the Koch's... I have no special insight into their current motives or intentions. But they certainly are libertarians who donate to libertarian causes (David Koch was even the Libertarian Party's VP candidate in 1980!). It would be pretty amazing if they backed Obama against Ron Paul!

    Finally, Polls show that Paul generally does better with NON-Tea Party voters than the other candidates. A certain segment of the tea party loves him, but he's especially strong with independents and even Democrats (where they're allowed to vote for Republicans). Andrew Sullivan endorsed Paul today -- his kind of libertarian-leaning moderate voter is what Paul needs to win. Yes, Ron Paul's chances are quite slim, but they are real.

  16. "Once he gets some coverage, the merely curious will drop out, and he'll have only his die-hard 15%. (Because he really is Nader crazy.)"

    Yes, because the non-crazy moderates have done such a great job with this country... ;)

  17. @Couves, I'm not surprised you attacked me. It's easier than showing Ron Paul isn't Nader-style crazy. For example, my take-down of his gold standard nonsense here.

  18. @Poli-- Attacked you...? Seriously? I only responded to your pot shot with one of my own. I even included a winky-face to keep everything friendly... I'm sorry you took it personally.

  19. @Couves, sorry, missed the winky face (I'm not a careful reader). It sounded like a dead ringer for a Paul supporter, so you did that well. And I got to try out a comeback.

    Not taken personally on my side. On the net, I'm just a collection of 0's and 1's.

  20. My prediction:

    Paul sneaks into first, thus ensuring that Iowa is downplayed as much as possible in favor of the NH result, which will be the predictable Romney victory.

    Newt finishes second and sinking fast, and is out of the race by Super Tuesday.

    Perry has a shot at sneaking up into third; if so, he spins it "Comeback Kid" style and sets up the Romney/Perry battle that has probably been predestined for months. I think Perry has a slight edge in that battle.

    If Romney beats him out to finish a strong third, it's game over, man. He'll win big in NH and start to roll.

    I sort of wish I wasn't predicting this, because it's the "boring" scenario, and is also likely to get us to President Romney, which brings out the heartbreaking existential angst in me. But I do think it's what will probably happen.

    But hey-- there was a time in 2007 when I was fairly sure we were headed for a Hillary Clinton vs. Fred Thompson matchup, so what do I know?

  21. "It sounded like a dead ringer for a Paul supporter, so you did that well."

    I am a Paul supporter... hope that's ok.

  22. I’m going to go with the conventional current 538 wisdom of Newt 1st, Paul 2nd and Mittster 3rd. I do think there’s a chance that Perry could surge and come in 2nd or 3rd as well (but I don’t see him winning.)If not I see him wining the dubious honor of 4th.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Previous comment deleted for unintended level of snark. @Couves, I'm fine with Paul supporters, in theory at least. I also believe in heterodoxy.

  25. I really don't want to be the one throwing water on the Ron Paul boomlet just as it may be getting started, on some issues I find Paul to be the best Republican, on a couple I would prefer Paul's positions to Obama administration policy.

    I'm not surprised Paul takes in a lot of donations from active duty servicepeople - he's the most anti-war candidate running this time around. If I was in the Middle East on my third.. fifth? eighth?? deployment, I'd want to get home too.

    And as for "leaving Israel on their own" - it's true that voters hate foreign aid (even if they vastly overstate the extent of it) - but Paul is competing with guys like Romney, who has said that he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. That's where the 'mainstream' Republicans are these days.

    What I'm getting at is that while there are millions of libertarian-conservatives who will march with Ron Paul anywhere, anytime to campaign on those positions.. there just aren't enough of them to win the Republican nomination. Perhaps 20% of the GOP is in the libertarian wing, but it's a rather hard ceiling considering most every other wing of the party consider those views disqualifying. If Ron Paul ran as a Democrat, his military policy would be virtually identical to Dennis Kucinich.

    It's not a loyal cadre of supporters Paul lacks, it's that his supporters just aren't enough to win a nomination. Frankly, I think the libertarians are more tolerated by the GOP establishment than they are taken into partnership. (Look at how Rand Paul had to battle Mitch McConnell and his hand-picked candidate to succeed Jim Bunning.)

    There's a reason Ron Paul scored lowest, with 62% of Republicans saying he was unacceptable as a candidate (tied for worst with Santorum). There are circumstances in both Iowa and New Hampshire that give Paul a better chance than most states, he could conceivably win both - but he's still polling single digits in S. Carolina, Nevada, and Florida.

  26. JS: I agree that the GOP activist base has some serious issues with Paul... but primary voters are a broader group that includes the bulk of people who aren't political junkies who hang on Hannity's every word and read political blogs every day. I'd be surprised if 62% of nationwide primary voters even knew enough about Paul to have strong feelings about him.

    Nationwide polling doesn't mean much right now -- Gingrich is just benefiting from lots of soft support as the not-Romney flavor of the month. Those numbers could move very quickly once votes start getting cast. There's also the question of whether Newt can raise the money and organization he needs in time. Paul's organization/money advantage is second only to Romney's at this point.

    But I guess the bottom line is, do you think it's possible for Paul to get support from people who aren't strictly "Ron Paul Republicans"? Now that he's approaching 20% in the first two states, I think he's clearly already done that (his die-hard support is no more than 10% in either state).

    If you haven't already, check out Andrew Sullivan's endorsement... he's maybe not a typical Republican voter, but I think he demonstrates the sometimes complicated, non-linear way people arrive at their chosen candidate:

  27. Heh, I find Sullivan is something like a beagle puppy that follows a laser pointer beam all around the room. Wait long enough, he'll come around to supporting a position you like.

    Sully's just all pissy at Obama for not falling on that Bowles-Simpson grenade when no one was going to actually vote it into law. Obama would have got nothing, except having every unpopular cut in the proposal hung about his neck like a millstone.

    I'll grant you that Paul is doing better than four years ago, but he still hasn't cracked 12% in a national poll since October. Once more, I'll say that don't confuse Iowa and New Hampshire for the country as a whole, caucuses are measures of enthusiasm more than broad-based support, and New Hampshire is possibly the primary state most receptive to libertarian ideals.

    The only way Ron Paul gets broad support from mainstream Republican voters (who are not 'Ron Paul' libertarian-Republicans) is if he gets to a general election, and the choice is Ron Paul or Obama. If he's the nominee, the party actors would support him, and most all of the base voters would follow. But those party actors aren't going to let Ron Paul within a thousand miles of the nomination.

    We'll see if Ron Paul is the next in line to be the "not Romney", as it looks like the Newtmentum is petering out. But for Ron Paul to have any shot, wouldn't you agree that he has to score wins in both IA and NH? When the race goes to the Bible Belt in SC, to NV where a quarter of the vote will be members of the Mormon Church, and back to the Deep South in FL? Those are states that aren't nearly as "Paul-friendly" as the first two contests. I say Paul needs to win both IA and NH to create a narrative to compete strongly in the next 3 early states. That said...

    Suffolk University NH Poll (Dec 10-13):

    Romney 38
    Gingrich 20
    Huntsman 13
    Paul 8

    Others 10
    Undecided 11

  28. Fair is Fair, much better news for Paulites from American Research Group..

    ARG NH Poll, Dec 11-14 (Nov 16-20):

    Romney 35 (33)
    Paul 21 (12)
    Gingrich 16 (22)
    Huntsman 13 (8)

    Generally you favor the local pollster over a national group, but a number and trend like this at least makes it seem conceivable that a bump from an Iowa win could vault Paul further up in NH.

    Maybe a strong second there would give him rationale to go forward, but those next states (actually SC first, then FL *then Nevada) are going to be extraordinarily hard for Paul to maintain any momentum.

    And then there's the month of February and the lead up to Super Tuesday. Paul is right up there in candidate fundraising, but I'm not aware of any SuperPAC support like Romney, Perry, and even now Gingrich have going for them.

  29. @JS, I've heard that NH is notoriously disdainful of what happens in Iowa. Just saying (or spreading rumors).

  30. @ModeratePoli, I'd also say that NH is known for being a bit contrarian, in not being a 'rubber stamp' for Iowa. But even though Hillary ultimately won the state, I recall Obama getting a solid bump in the NH polls after his IA win.

    A difference this cycle is that with an uncontested Democratic presidential primary, how will a greater proportion of Independents affect the race this year? (Although there's a case to be made that in '08, NH voters saw Obama rush out to a 9-point polling lead, and a whole bunch of them figured that they could afford to help McCain against Romney.)

  31. JS: The first poll you cite is a clear outlier. Every other recent poll has Paul doing more than twice that number:

    National numbers are irrelevant. Rudy was leading the pack in 2008 until people actually started voting in IA and NH. His national "lead" then evaporated.


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