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Iowa 2012 GOP Presidential Power Rankings: Time is not on their side

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« on: November 07, 2011, 01:59:47 pm »

Iowa 2012 GOP Presidential Power Rankings: Time is not on their side
By Staff report | 11.07.11 | 10:00 am

For the past eight months, a group of volunteer Iowa activists have been contributing to these Power Rankings and attempting to answer what GOP candidate is positioned to capture caucus gold if the event was tonight.

The panelists have watched as candidates entered the race, surged to the top and then were found to be lacking the necessities that lead to a caucus win: consistent messaging, grassroots organization and activist energy and loyalty.

The panel, which is comprised of our staff, academics, political consultants, GOP activists, local party officials and other state political reporters, is well positioned to gauge the strength of the campaigns in Iowa. So these rankings, although unscientific, offer a unique view of this particular snapshot in time.

Since only 57 days remain before Iowans gather at their caucus sites and recent polling has shown nearly 75 percent of all likely caucusgoers to have only soft support for a specific candidate, the snapshots being provided become even more important. On caucus night, it comes down to momentum and organization — who has it, who has honed it and who is ready to exploit it.

And with that, here’s how we think the Iowa Caucuses would end if they were held tonight.

1. Ron Paul — The Texas congressman remains at the top of our rankings for the second week because our panelists generally see him as the GOP candidate who currently has both an energized base and grassroots organization.

“Once again, baggage is creeping up on everyone else, but Paul is traveling lightly. When there’s so much negative coverage floating around, voters are going to turn to a guy like Paul who is seen as genuine, even among people who don’t agree with him on all the issues,” said one panelist.

Another added, “I don’t think polls accurately show his support, especially with young people, and he’s been advertising quite a bit. Plus I think he draws a different base of support than the anti-Romney, evangelical crowd.”

Although nearly all of our panelists placed Paul in their top three finishers, it remains clear that the scope of the Power Rankings — the fact that we try to determine how the caucuses would end if they were held tonight, and not necessarily gauging placement on the actual caucus date of Jan. 3, 2012 — benefits Paul the most.

“He remains the candidate in the race with the best combination of an excited base and quality organization, which is the best in the state. I personally saw his organization pull in over 500 people on a Saturday morning to a National Federation of Republican Assemblies event, and he was the only candidate with any real support there. However, the January 3rd Caucus date does not work in his favor.”

Given the excitement Paul has generated at Iowa appearances and given his campaign’s outreach through both paid advertisements and constituent groups, there is no denying that he would have a very strong showing if the caucuses were held tonight. He also benefits from a fractured Iowa GOP, which hasn’t yet launched a solid rally around a specific candidate. But if that happens in advance of Jan. 3, it remains unlikely that Paul could survive the onslaught.

“I’m not disparaging Paul’s youthful base when I say that historically those young people have not been reliable caucusgoers. Yes, Paul can draw a large crowd at the University of Iowa during homecoming and relatively good weather. But what happens to Paul’s turnout on a likely very miserable Monday night in January when students remain on holiday?”

“If the caucuses were held today, the various student groups on the college campuses would likely be able to do a good job of turning out their supporters. Given the general lack of enthusiasm shown for the rest of the field, his current level of support might push Paul’s tally up. Unfortunately, when the caucuses are held on January 3 school won’t be in session and it will be harder to achieve the turnout he needs for a top three finish.”


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The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity, but the one that removes awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an outside. --Allan Bloom

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