The polls now consistently show Gingrich in fourth in Iowa. He is in second nationally but the results out of Iowa will probably change that. The latest American Research Group poll is more favorable to Gingrich, having him only one point behind Santorum and two behind Paul. He has taken a much sharper tone against Romney now and says, “Here is my simple tag line: Somebody who will lie to you to get you to be president will lie to you when they are president.”
Almost all of the polls show Rick Perry in fifth place in the state. He is going after Santorum now as a “serial pork barrel earmarker” and he is criticizing him for voting eight times to raise the debt ceiling. The Perry campaign has put together an ad calling him “unelectable” and Perry says, “This guy has proven that he can’t win races when it matters against a liberal Democrat.” It is hard to see how Perry survives a fourth place finish, but one poll had him in third place, one ahead of Gingrich and only one behind Santorum.
Michele Bachmann won the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, briefly bringing her into the top-tier, but now she’s languishing in second-to-last in the polls. Jon Huntsman is in last place in Iowa, but he has focused his campaign solely on New Hampshire. The polls in that state, the first primary, show him in a very tight contest with Gingrich for third place.
The current polls give reason for the Romney campaign to be happy and to be concerned. He could win both Iowa and New Hampshire, which would “almost certainly seal the Republican nomination for himself,” in the words of Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake. The rise of Rick Santorum further splits the vote of those who are against Romney. On the other hand, if Bachmann and/or Perry drop out after Iowa, it will help consolidate the anti-Romney vote.
If the polls prove accurate, Rick Santorum will get the frontrunner’s treatment immediately after the results in Iowa come in. There is a debate on Saturday, January 7, at 9 PM EST on ABC. Another will be held the next morning at 9 AM EST on NBC. If Santorum can’t handle the heat, then another candidate could make a comeback. Jon Huntsman might get a fresh look if one or more other candidates drop out, giving him more time on the stage.
The results in Iowa today can kill a campaign or inject it with new life. Tomorrow will be a different race than it was today.
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