This will be my final post for 2011. Normally for one of my last posts I do some sort of retrospective on the previous year. However, next Tuesday is the Republican Iowa Caucus, and I wanted to discuss that before the votes were cast. Since I have mismanaged my blogging schedule, as per usual, I will dedicate this post to the vote happening next week and next week to some other topic, possibly the wrap up of 2011.
Historically I have not done too badly in the prediction business. Before I lay out any prediction I may have for the Iowa Caucus I figured I should outline some scenarios for what may happen. For polling information you can check these links: RealClearPolitics 538
Scenario 1: The Boring Outcome. One of the most likely, and least interesting, outcomes of the Iowa Caucus will be that Former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) will win. Romney is highly favoured in New Hampshire, which means he could win both early states and run away with the nomination. As a political junkie I would like to see a horserace. If the nomination process could drag out until June, I would be a pretty happy guy. Letting the reasonable moderate win so early on would be a tad depressing.
Scenario 2: The Outside Upset. Ron Paul (R-TX), it is fair to say, is not popular with establishment Republicans. His libertarian values and radical solutions to the problems ailing America are nothing short of controversial. Still, his popular appeal and aggressive attacks on failed Democratic and Republican policies has earned him a large, energized base. The media have not taken Paul seriously, and typically overlook him. If Ron Paul wins Iowa with over 30%, it will be a major upset and change the field.
Scenario 3: Iowa Vote Split. A tight race is made tighter by several candidates receiving between 10-20%. This sort of outcome could lead to a surprise winner, or the perceived weakness of one of the major contenders, especially Mitt Romney.
Scenario 4: A Conservative Surprise. One of the conservative Republicans, Bachmann (R-MN), Perry (R-TX), Santorum (R-PA) or Huntsman (R-UT) (least likely), could use vote splitting and an unsettled electorate to take Iowa. If any one of these four win the state it would fundamentally change the complexion of the race. Any of those four would be strengthened in future races and become the media topic.
Scenario 5: Gingrich (R-GA) Wins. I view this as very unlikely. His boom in the polls, and sudden contraction makes it improbable that he will win. If he does, it will match fairly closely to Scenario 4, but there will be less of a surprise. Many of his former supporters will likely rally back to him.
So, my prediction. None of the candidates will receive more than 32% of the vote, and I believe the winner will likely be around 25-30%. The outcome of Iowa will probably only confuse the outcome of the race rather than make it obvious. Iowa often gives pundits a surprise, I expect it to do the same here. Michele Bachmann has done very well in recent debates, and she will be over the 10% she receives in most polls, I assume she will be third. Aside from Huntsman, I am fairly confident all the candidates will be in the 10+% range, which will be a very divided field. At the moment I am inclined to believe Romney will come second and Ron Paul first, but the race will be tight. I am also prepared to eat A LOT of humble pie on January 3 if I am wrong. So, the Iowa Republican Caucus, according to the Orange Tory, is Paul, Romney, Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, Santorum, Huntsman.