The Iowa caucuses will be getting underway in just a few hours, and normally, as events speed themselves toward the conclusion of a thing, one expects bewilderment to fade and for a certain amount of well ... certainty to start to congeal. But this is Iowa, in an election year, and the whole point is that you are not supposed to have any clue about what is going to happen. Don't let so-called experts make you feel bad for feeling out-of-the-loop as they casually make predictions, either! They don't have the slightest idea what's going on, either.
Look, as near as we can tell, when all is said and done on Tuesday, the winner will be Mitt Romney, or Ron Paul, unless it's not, in which case, it will be Rick Santorum. Or possibly Newt Gingrich. If Newt doesn't finish dead last, that is! Which would mean Michele Bachmann wouldn't finish dead last. Which would be a positive, and unexpected result that might give her flagging candidacy "new life." Unless it doesn't. Also: Rick Perry! He could do well, unless he does poorly. In either event, he has more money and campaign support to keep pressing ahead, so Perry might have a stronger candidacy that Newt or Bachmann even if more people vote for the latter two. Get that? Because I sure don't!
Pop quiz! If Rick Santorum wins Iowa, who does this benefit the most? The answer, believe it or not, is Mitt Romney. Probably.
Okay, let's say Romney and Paul take the lion's share of the vote and finish one-two or two-one, and then, say Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich all finish with numbers in the mid-teens -- for example: Santorum 17 percent, Perry 15 percent and Gingrich 14 percent. Who finished third in Iowa? As it happens, in the past, we've seen fifth place finishers characterize their fifth-place finish as a "a three-way split decision for third place." So, if you answered, "They all did," then you are 100 percent correct, (unless it turns out you're wrong).
Did you know that Sarah Palin fans in Iowa are planning some desperate, Hail Mary maneuver to get her nominated? It's true! They call themselves "Sarah Palin's Iowa Earthquake" and they are encouraging Iowans to "Vote Rogue on January 3rd." Does this mean that these folks will gather at caucus sites, literally cast votes for "Rogue," making it so Anna Paquin's character from the X-Men movies finishes fourth in Iowa? Your guess is as good -- and as bad -- as mine.
And, in truth, your guess is just as good as any of the pundits and flacks who have taken to your teevee to tell you what they think is going to happen in Iowa. Don't believe me? Well, our own Ben Craw has made a new mashup video of everyone doing their best to tell you what is going to eventually happen in this long, drawn out fight for what will turn out to be an astoundingly small number of delegates, relative to all the nonsensical fuss we made over the damn thing.
So don't worry about it. Chill out. Feel good that you are at the same exact level of political sophistication as everyone else, and that's okay. There's only one person who we can say with 100 percent certainty will not win in Iowa, and that person is, of course, Dick Gephardt.
[Video produced by Ben Craw]
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