Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The triumph of Mitt Romney?

I have to say, the coverage of the Iowa caucuses has been pretty terrible. The conventional wisdom has been [re]emerging that Mitt Romney might just pull off a win in Iowa and then cruise to the nomination. This is because a) Newt appears to be in a free-fall and b) the racist and utterly insane Ron Paul newsletters seem to be undermining his support. Both of these things are probably true. But, trust me, Mitt Romney still won't win Iowa. Why? Because as every single article on the Iowa horserace fails to analyze, Iowa is a god damn caucus state. What does that mean? That means intensity of support is a HUGELY important variable. And Romney's support is not intense at all. The anti-Mormon, anti-Romney intensity is particularly acute when the caucus process is involved. Now, I personally despise the caucus process. It is intimidating, bullying, and anti-democratic. Even I won't stand up in front of a caucus delegation and make the case for my candidate and I have stood in front of 400 students talking about political science. Caucuses suck. But nevertheless, that is the process in Iowa. In a caucus, voter preference matters. And I guarantee you, the people in Iowa that don't like Mitt Romney, really don't like Mitt Romney. They will not rally to his cause once their preferred candidate is eliminated. Instead, they will gravitate to whichever "anti-Romney" candidate emerges within their particular caucus group. So while Romney might poll at 22% (or whatever it is now) in Iowa, it's a soft 22% and it probably won't translate in a strong showing in socially conservative Iowa. Now, this certainly doesn't mean Romney won't win the overall GOP nomination. I mean, McCain got slaughtered in Iowa and he rebounded. I just mean to say Romney will almost certainly lose Iowa and, call me crazy, but I still say Gingrich is the frontrunner there. 

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