Saturday, December 31, 2011

Who is next to go?

History and conventional wisdom tell us that at least one presidential candidate will drop out of the race after he/she performs poorly in Iowa and/or New Hampshire.

So, let's play along. Which current GOP candidate will end his/her presidential ambitions sometime between Jan. 4 (the day after the Iowa Caucuses) and Jan. 11 (the day after the New Hampshire Primary)?

Remember, the candidates are (in alphabetical order):

Michele Bachmann
Newt Gingrich
Jon Huntsman
Ron Paul
Rick Perry
Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum

If the recent polls tell us anything (and please remember that polls never predict; they are merely snapshots in time), then the following statements could prove true:
1. Mr. Romney could win Iowa and New Hampshire
2. Mr. Paul is likely to run stronger in Iowa, a state he could win, than in New Hampshire
3. Mr. Santorum could finish as high as third in Iowa and close to the bottom in New Hampshire
4. Mr. Gingrich is fading and unlikely to finish better than third in either state
5. Mr. Huntsman could finish fourth in New Hampshire but will end up last in Iowa
6. Mr. Perry appears to be treading water
7. Ms. Bachmann appears to be taking on water

The likelihood of Mr. Perry or Ms. Bachmann ending their campaigns in the next two weeks is obvious; neither is likely to be a reasonable challenger in Iowa or New Hampshire, where other candidates will siphon their voters. Of course, they could hold out in hopes of a strong showing in the South Carolina primary, scheduled for Jan. 21. But they would run the risk of being ignored by the mainstream media for 11 days and finding whatever support they enjoy in that state gravitating to another candidate.

The seven candidates have a couple more days to convince Iowans that they deserve their vote in the caucuses. And when they go to caucus, the weather is expected to be brisk but clear.

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