The Final State Of The Race Report Before Iowa
The race has continued to evolve throughout the Christmas season, although it’s a bit hard to get a good reading on things because of the dearth of polling over the last few days.
That being said, here’s how things appear to be shaping up,
* Fred Thompson’s (5% chance to win) numbers have been tanking across the board in the early states and supposedly he’s running low on money. He probably needs at least a third place finish in Iowa to keep going and he may need to do even better to get enough of a boost to really get in the hunt.
* Rudy’s (10% chance to win) numbers have bounced back up a bit after plunging earlier this month, but he’s still not on track to finish better than third place anywhere prior to the Florida primary, which is on Jan 29.
Granted, Giuliani is back on top in Florida, but since McCain’s numbers have improved, he seems less likely to drop out, and that means Giuliani’s chances to win have dropped considerably.
Can he go through 5 states, finishing no higher than 3rd place, and then come back and win Florida on the 29th? The odds would seem to be heavily against it at this point.
* For a long time I’ve been saying that John McCain (25% chance to win) isn’t out of it and now he’s finally starting to rally. In fact, if you believe Arg’s latest poll (which I don’t, Arg’s polling is mostly crap, mostly), McCain is in third place in Iowa, within striking distance of Romney and Huckabee.
However, in New Hampshire, McCain is definitely fighting Romney for the win. He also appears to have picked up some support from Guiliani and Thompson supporters who seem to be considering McCain as an alternative to Huckabee and Romney.
* Everyone keeps waiting for Mike Huckabee (25% chance to win) to fold under the tidal wave of criticism he’s been taking for the past few weeks. Day after day, in story after story, Huckabee is being hammered into the ground, but like a buoy, his numbers just refuse to sink.
The latest numbers in Iowa, which are from the unreliable ARG, have Huckabee up by two points over Romney in Iowa. The other latest numbers for Huckabee, except for New Hampshire, where Huckabee would get a big boost if he won Iowa, look pretty good as well. If he wins in Iowa, he has a great shot to take it all the way.
* Overall, Romney’s (35% chance to win) numbers aren’t any stronger than Huckabee’s. However, since Romney is in the hunt for the top spot in the top three states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Michigan, he is the candidate with the most potential to run the table and the candidate who looks the most resilient.
Theoretically, he could lose Iowa and New Hampshire, come back and win in Michigan, and stay in the race. On the other hand, if he loses Iowa to Huckabee and New Hampshire to McCain, he may tank in Michigan and then he would probably be out of it.
Long story short: It’s still wide open, although Thompson and Giuliani are probably going to need to surprise people with how well they do in the early states to keep going.
If that doesn’t happen, Romney or Huckabee could steamroll the field. Alternately, it could turn into a two person race with McCain going toe to toe with Romney or Huckabee. Although it’s hard to say for sure, my guess is that McCain would beat either of them in a two man race.
PS: My final personal preference list for the candidates still in the race,
1) Duncan Hunter (My former employer)
2) Fred Thompson
3 — Tie) Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain
4) Rudy Giuliani
5 — Tie) Ron Paul, Alan Keyes
Thompson and Hunter would be great candidates.
Romney, Huckabee, and McCain? I would support them because I would rather have a Republican in the White House than a Democrat, but my enthusiasm level is pretty much zero for all three of them.
Romney is an unelectable flip-flopper. McCain is a pro-amnesty RINO who loves kicking conservatives in the face for the amusement of the media. Mike Huckabee has a lot of baggage and is a big government Republican who reminds me of Jimmy Carter.
Then there’s Keyes and Paul, who are both just horrible.
All that’s left to say is that it may not be hopeless yet, but it’s not looking good for those of us who want to see a real conservative as our candidate in 2008.