In three days, Iowa Republicans will caucus to voice their opinion as to who the GOP nominee should be. The field this year, has been one of the most volatile, with no clear front runner emerging. And, while that’s relatively normal in presidential politics, the speed with which candidates have shot to the top, only to collapse in ensuing weeks, has been breathtaking. The field has seen Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, Paul and recently, Santorum cresting.
Broad-based voter antipathy about Romney based on his lacklustre pseudo-conservative positions, in conjunction with his somewhat prickly personality has left Republican faithful searching for a viable alternative. In my opinion, there’s only one, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney’s doppelganger. He’s an articulate, middle of the road former governor and businessman who was successful at pretty much everything he ever touched, save this presidential nomination. He hasn’t gained traction with the GOP primary goers, and, to date, is the only candidate that hasn’t been able to claim the frontrunner status in Iowa at any point since entering the race. It’s odd, that these men are so much alike, in background and qualifications, yet one is near the front of the pack, and the other is left trailing in the dust.
Rick Santorum has been making a bit of a splash in recent days, and while that may be part of a media narrative that’s concocted by political journalists to sell papers, it may still reflect a deep sense of distrust of Mitt Romney. I personally think it’s a bit of both.
But, after the Iowa primaries, the field is going to be a whole hell of a lot thinner on the GOP side. If neither Paul nor Perry wins, they have nowhere to go, and will likely drop out. If neither Gingrich, Bachmann or Santorum pulls out a win, they’ll look to South Carolina for salvation. Romney and Huntsman have a firewall in New Hampshire. And if Romney wins Iowa, it becomes difficult to see a way forward for any other candidate to move forward.
So, while the nominating process will move forward for a while after Iowa, we’re not going to be seeing these cycles of candidates waxing and waning. One candidate’s campaign will surge, and continue to surge, while the others fall by the side of the road, and into lockstep with the decisions rendered by the state primaries. Or, perhaps they won’t, and we see a continuation of the conservative revolt that’s plagued the GOP thus far, and a third party candidate emerging to lay claim to the mantle of the one, true conservative.