As Republicans gather here in Sioux City, Iowa for the final debate before the Iowa Caucuses on January 3, the big parlor game right now in political circles is trying to figure out where this race is going in the next 19 days.
We have seen all kinds of volatility – that’s for sure – so, why can’t there still be another big swing in this race before the Hawkeye State makes a choice?
There are definitely some rumblings about maybe a slowdown for Newt Gingrich in Iowa; but it’s hard to tell whether that is just talk or something based in reality.
“Our Iowa grassroots organization is strong and growing,” said Rick Perry in an email to supporters, as he tries to pump up the idea about another surge in this GOP race.
Perry kicked off a 44-stop bus tour on Thursday in Council Bluffs, a trek that will take him all the way to the caucuses, interspersed with some campaign stops in other states as well.
“I hope some of you are taking a second look,” Perry said to voters gathered in that western Iowa city, once a gateway to the American West.
Recent polls have showed Perry bubbling up a little in the Hawkeye State – whether he has real ‘momentum’ is a question we might not get an answer about until January 3.
As for Gingrich, he’s still ahead in recent polls, though there was one earlier this week which showed him only one point ahead of Ron Paul.
The one thing that really sticks in the back of my mind right now are the details from various polls which show how many people remain willing to change their vote.
In a recent CNN/Time Magazine poll, 39% said they would “Definitely support” the candidate they picked, while 55% of those surveyed indicated they “Might change mind.”
A new poll out this week from the Pew Research Center zeroed in on this issue even more directly:
“Just 29% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters who favor Gingrich for the nomination support him strongly; 69% support him “only moderately,” said the poll.
Romney’s backers were 33% strongly for him and 66% in the “only moderately” category.
“Support for both Gingrich and Romney is softer than was support for the leading GOP candidates four years ago,” the Pew poll reported.
How does that compare with other states? The CNN/Time poll had this breakdown:
The one word that describes this year’s GOP field – other than Mitt Romney – may well be “volatile.”
The horses are nearing the quarter pole; we’ll see who has a kick down the stretch and to the Iowa finish line.