Ron Paul's PAC recently started pushing the results of a commissioned poll saying that their man is now in the lead in the Iowa. In the poll, Paul has 22 percent of support among Iowans while Romney is at 17 percent in the Hawkeye state. Earlier this month a Bloomberg poll found Ron Paul in the top tier in Iowa. Nearly everyone in the field has gotten a chance to be a GOP frontrunner -- sorry Huntsman, sorry Santorum. So why shouldn't Paul get his 15 minutes on the revolving carousel after Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain and now Newt?
It is not inconceivable that Ron Paul's timing -- his campaign upsurge -- has the good fortune of reaching its peak just as the Iowa straw caucus poll begins and all the other not-Romney wannabes have fallen. There is, one cannot fail to note, a "felt need" within the party for anyone other than Romney that is so strong it would to consider an astonishing buffoon like Herman Cain. Ron Paul, though at times he can appear a bit Magooish, is not Herman Cain. That having been said, I fully expect Mitt Romney to win the GOP nomination. Mitt Romney is making the fewest mistakes; Mitt Romney is a solid debater; Mitt Romney -- and this is my most important point -- has, quite simply, the best hair. It's a truly fucking awesome head of hair, graying at the temples just as it ought. Romney is quite frankly good at projecting an image of inevitability, of quiet competence. It is impossible, however, to ignore entirely that telling 25% ceiling that his campaign cannot seem to crack no matter how "competent" his projected surface. Mitt, who knows that numbers don't lie, would understand my skepticism here. A quarter of Republican support is a fragile house upon which to build an American Presidency.
It has been said that with regards to elections, Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line. Another extreme oversimplification coming right up: the Dems are the "Mommy Party" -- concerned with education, healthcare, human rights. The Reps are the "Daddy Party" -- all fiscal discipline and national security, rigid and hierarchical (and they don't ask for directions). It is, in GOP terms, by the logic of hierarchy, Mitt's turn by virtue of the fact that he won the silver medal in 2008, just like it was McCain's turn in 2008 because he got the silver back in 2004. Fair play and all that; it's all very white of them.
In my guestimation the GOP primary ultimately plays out something like this: Romney makes it into the top tier in Iowa, maybe third, quite possibly second -- no big deal, as he has lowered expectations already -- and then wins New Hampshire. New Hampshire is the key to Mitt's campaign, the place where the Team Romney makes its stand. I wouldn't be surprised that someone as -- how does one say this? -- calculating as Mitt Romney didn't think of Wolfboro for a second home because of the added bonus of the Presidential campaign calendar. New Hampshire is also where, in all likelihood, another Mormon on the trail, Jon Huntsman, will make his concession speech saying that he would never have forgiven himself if he didn't give it a try. Mitt Romney has an 11 acre estate in Wolfeboro, was Governor of neighboring Massachusetts (most of the New Hampshire population lives in the Boston media market) and is thus a known quality in the state.
Next up: the South. Romney will lose South Carolina GOP primary, because he is simply not conservative enough and because he is not Christian enough. At around that time Mitt will be rolling out a shitload of endorsements - those carefully cultivated IOUs that he has kept close to his chest. Those will minimize the blow, make him look inevitable even while he is having his ass handed to him south of the Mason-Dixon line. That steady stream of endorsements will jettison Mitt into Florida at the end of January and give him just the right kind of momentum into Super Tuesday. The endorsements -- from party superheavyweights like Jebby and Chris Chrystie -- and the great money advantage should put him over. This is all good so as long as Ron Paul doesn't win Iowa. In that event all theoretical bets are off.
So I ask -- what if Ron Paul happened to win Iowa. It is not an inconceivable event, not beyond the realm of possibility anyway. Ron Paul's support in Iowa has always been above a respectable 10%. Paul is, however, starting to surge in the run up. And, curiously, Mitt Romney may be noticing. Even as President Obama was making his historic trans-Pacific pivot, Romney, on a far less grand geopolitical scale, was pivoting to compete in Iowa. Does "Mittens," as Rachel Maddow so un-affectionately calls him, want to put this thing away with a quick one-two combination punch in Iowa, then New Hampshire? Is Romney worried that a surging Ron Paul might win in Iowa, thus radically boosting Team Paul's chances in also taking New Hampshire, a state perfectly tailored to Ron Paul's libertarianism, a state that happens to love the art of the political comeback? Remember Pat Buchanan, another arguably loveable paleoconservative "outsider" in the Granite state in 1992?
Were Ron Paul to win Iowa, he would definitely alter the dynamics of the primary race in New Hampshire, a key state for Mitt Romney. Were Ron Paul to win Iowa and then, quite possibly, New Hampshire as well, Mitt Romney would be headed down South -- enemy territory -- and would not reach his allies in Florida until January's end. And what if Ron Paul's paleoconservatism and his momentum were enough to win him South Carolina, the hat trick? Then Mitt Romney, allies in Florida or not, would be very, very fucked. And the big winners of such a scenario - not so very far-fetched -- would be Ron Paul.
And, of course, President Barack Obama.
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