The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

We’ve Been Warned: Some Won’t Survive Iowa!


If your patience is waning, and you think you can’t stand one more discussion of who will win Iowa, be cautious — the state itself can be fatal, according to this headline and opening paragraph from Ken Rudin on NPR:

Not Everyone Will Survive Iowa

 Dec 12, 2011 — A change in the primary delegate rules may extend the battle for the Republican nomination into the spring. But, if history is a guide, some candidates may not survive the Iowa caucuses.

Hypothermia would be my bet.

Oh, wait, he didn’t mean literally.

But while there is reason to hope that the Republican contest next year may extend into the spring months, there is a near certainty that some of the candidates may be gone from the race soon after the Iowa caucus results are in on Jan. 3, just over three weeks from now.

Someone asked if I was available for an event on the afternoon of January 4, and I said that based on past history, I’ll probably be covering somebody’s campaign coming to an end.

Rudin writes, “If I were a betting man — and certainly not on the scale with Mitt Romney— I would think that the candidacies of both Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are the most precarious in Iowa. The two have probably put more hours into the state than any other Republican candidate. But neither is especially well-funded, neither is in double digits in the polls, and neither has gotten the kind of media air and ink time their rivals have. They also don’t have much going in New Hampshire (Jan. 10 primary), which makes Iowa that more crucial.”

Could the Ames Straw Poll winner end up not winning the Iowa caucus? That hasn’t happened since... 2008… and 1996… and 1988.

A reader wrote to me back in 2007, “As someone who worked on the [Phil] Gramm presidential campaign, I can say winning the Iowa staw poll doesn’t mean squat.  I know it happens every cycle — pundits and people who love politics inflate false events because there’s nothing else to do and then the people vote.  But, only one of those events matters.  (As I am sure you remember, Gramm tied Dole in the straw poll and then was rewarded with a fifth place finish in the actual voting.)”

Tags: Ames Straw Poll , Iowa , Michele Bachmann


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