Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Four Way Stop

Polling doesn't get much wackier than this: I know I'm a little late to the party but I have to note the Bloomberg survey released late Monday that shows a four way dead heat in Iowa.
Cain 20
Paul 19
Romney 18
Gingrich 17
Perry 7
Bachmann 5
Santorum 3
Huntsman 1
It reminds us caucus vets of the four way Kerry-Edwards-Dean-Gephardt tie on caucus eve 2004.

But my gut check is this one's a fluke. It catches the flavor of the month transition of the Not Mitt role from Cain to Gingrich. The more I think about it, the more I buy Rachel Maddow's theory that the Cain campaign is in fact a performance art project.

I can't see Newt lasting long in this role either; his personal failings are too much for the Vander Plaats constituency to accept. Speaking of the famIly leader (remember, the upper case I is for Bob's self-importance), he's saving his venom this week for Romney. Miffed that Mitt is the only major candidate to skip the royal command performance this weekend, he calls Romney "not smart enough to be president.” Strong statement when the options are Herman Cain and Perry the Platypus.

I think the Ron Paul spike here is a statistical fluke. Paul has a rock solid 12 to 15 percent that won't get much bigger or much smaller; he's not going to climb to, say, 30. He could take second if the rest of the field splinters enough. And statistically, a strong Paul performance helps Mitt. By soaking up an indigestible X percent, Paul lowers the share of the remaining 85 percent or so that Romney will need to place first. Everything is still pointing to a Dole-like 26 percent win.

Michele Bachmann, meanwhile, has a new web ad that slams Mitt, Cain, Newt, Paul and Perry, multiple times each, with their own words, for deviations from conservative orthodoxy.

"Don't Settle," it pleads. But notice who she didn't bash? Rick Santorum. It may be because she's ahead of him, or it may be because those litmus test failures can't be found. (She may have been scared of Googling him...)

In any case, Santorum has not yet had his turn as flavor of the month. Who knows: he could get lucky and be the latest Not Mitt at just the right moment. I may check him out tomorrow; 7:30 AM, Hamburg Inn.

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