This arrived today – Evans-Novak Prediction
January 2, 2008
Vol. 43, No. 1a
To: Our Readers
Iowa voters tomorrow night will go to their local precinct caucuses to cast their lot with a presidential candidate. The winner is hardly guaranteed his party’s nomination — in fact, it’s possible that neither Iowa winner will come out as the favorite for the nomination — but the caucuses will certainly be the end of the road for some candidates.
Here are our analyses of the races as they stand now and the most likely outcomes:
Republicans: This is a two-way contest between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The battle for third place is among former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.). Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is not even spending this week in Iowa. Instead, he is campaigning in New Hampshire.
- Ever since finishing second in the Iowa straw poll last August, Huckabee steadily climbed here in Iowa, aided by his evangelical pedigree, his sincerity and the fresh-face factor, and less critical press coverage than any other candidate. Polls of likely Republican caucus-goers consistently showed Huckabee ahead throughout December, but more recent surveys are a mixed bag, showing slippage by Huckabee.
- Polling the caucuses is notoriously difficult, because caucusing, unlike voting in a primary, can take all night. Turnout is a bigger commitment, and it’s harder to predict. While pollsters try to correct for this, the room for error is huge.
- Romney is close or leading in the post-Christmas polls. This is probably good enough for him. He has a much bigger team in Iowa and much more money to spend than do Huckabee and the other Republican candidates. Romney’s campaign should be better than Huckabee’s at getting its supporters to their caucuses.
- Huckabee, however, has two potential caucus-night advantages. First, he enjoys more enthusiastic support than does Romney, who, for many Iowa Republicans, is just the most electable or the most acceptable of the top-tier candidates. Huckabee, by contrast, has a strong core of dedicated voters who share his religious views. Huckabee has recently come under a steady barrage of criticism by economic conservatives and a constant drubbing by Romney’s well-financed campaign.
- Two weeks ago, we wrote that Thompson was the “X-Factor.” Most Iowa Republicans hadn’t given him much thought as of mid-December, but he has spent the last two-and-a-half weeks in the Hawkeye State. Post-Christmas polls do not show a big spike, but he does seem to poll even with McCain for third place. A decent third-place finish for either of these men would be a boost going into New Hampshire.
- Ron Paul could make a splash, as well. He’s in fifth place in most polls, but his supporters are unmatched in enthusiasm and dedication. A third-place finish for Paul is not out of the question.
- The most likely outcome appears to be:
1st Place: Mitt Romney
2nd Place: Mike Huckabee
3rd Place: Fred Thompson
4th Place: John McCain