Rich, Kerry had a shot in Iowa in 2004 not because he was strong there throughout the year before but because a) Howard Dean melted down after a disastrous debate performance and b) he figured out that running as a Vietnam vet and thereby being electable in a war environment was the way to go.
Obviously, if there’s a meltdown at the top of the race, if Rudy and/or Thompson really start to blow it, then Iowa becomes important (though nowhere near as important as it was in 2004). But getting a few thousand people to get on your bus and have you pay their $25 entry fee really doesn’t offer much in the way of prognostication where the results of the Iowa caucuses are concerned.
Case in point: Noam Schreiber, who hyperventilated over the weekend about the profound importance of Mike Huckabee’s 2500 votes, insists that Huckabee is ” going to have a lot of say over who wins Iowa.” On what planet?
All Huckabee’s showing promises him is that Iowans will give him a second look. Which they will, and then the vast majority of them will look elsewhere. It’s human nature. I think Huckabee is the unalloyed delight of this election season, but with two unabashedly star-power candidates at the top of the heap (Rudy and Fred), one powerful if broke presence still making a showing (McCain) and one potential star in Romney there too, there’s absolutely no reason for anybody in Iowa to throw his or her vote (or stand-up, or whatever they do in caucuses) away by going for a guy who doesn’t have the least shot at winning unless they’re voting in protest.