Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Iowa Math.

Paul Tully, the late, great Democratic political operative, used to say about whatever state he happened to be organizing: "you gotta do the math." So, let's do the math for the 2012 Iowa Republican Presidential Precinct Caucuses Straw Poll.

For the sake of argument, let's say that 4% of the caucus attenders vote "undecided." Let's further stipulate that candidates Perry, Bachmann, Santorum and (I guess) Huntsman (bundled together) gather 26% of the total vote.

That leaves 70% up for grabs.

It seems safe to say that Ron Paul will garner something like 25% of the total Straw Poll vote. I imagine that the total electorate will be roughly 150,000 people, so 25% would be 37,500 votes. That seems maybe a tad bit high, but Paul is well-organized and well-financed and you have to believe that he will get every last one of his supporters to their assigned stations.

That leaves 45% (give or take) of the vote up for grabs.

If we assume that Gingrich is good for 30,000 votes and Romney is good for 30,000 votes then the remaining 7500 votes are decisive. If Romney goes below 30K, Gingrich wins. If Gingrich falls below 30K, Romney wins.

It's very few people, obviously, and not exactly representative of the national Republican Party electorate. But 10,000 votes either way will have a HUGE impact on the press narrative that is written immediately following the announcement of the Iowa Straw Poll results.

The press is dying to write the story of Newt Gingrich's second collapse. They can't stand him and they want him to lose. If he finishes third in Iowa, they will write his political obituary in acid.

If he wins Iowa, the narrative writes itself: Gingrich vs. Romney, with New Hampshire presumably boosting Romney a week later and South Carolina setting up as must-win for Gingrich.

The one thing we can be sure of is that a Paul victory in Iowa has already been "priced into" the political marketplace. No one will pay it any mind.