Posted by | August 14, 2011 14:44 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

The Iowa straw poll is a largely media-created event that has little meaning on its own.  Still, as an afficionado of the “horse race” I feel the overwhelming urge to analyze and pontificate.

The Four Candidates Who Matter

Mitt Romney is not competing in Iowa.  He may say that he is but he isn’t.  He’s going all in on New Hampshire and if he wins there he will be the favorite for the  nomination.

Michele Bachmann had a mixed day yesterday.  She won the Straw Poll, but the candidate who entered the race yesterday has gazillions of dollars and is going after the same voters.  Still, Bachmmann has a three month head start and a zealous group of followers.  There’s only room for between her and Perry once we get out of the first group of states.  I’m betting on Perry but I wouldn’t count her out.

Rick Perry is the aforementioned candidate with gazillions of dollars.  As such, he is probably the only candidate who can beat Romney for the nomination.  He’ll be competitive in every state, but will need to win in either Iowa or South Carolina to have a chance.

Ron Paul is the candidates GOP pundits are loathe to acknowledge.  He had a great showing yesterday and is my favorite for the Iowa caucuses.  This will keep him in the race longer than in 2008 and he will make the other candidates very uncomfortable.  He’ll lag once the states get bigger but his message resonates and he will be a factor in deciding who eventually wins (though it is hard to see him endorsing any of the other three!).

The Three Who Are “Reassessing Their Candidacies”

Tim Pawlenty: Oops never mind, he dropped out.

Herman Cain: A weak fifth-place finish and I think he will drop out this week.  His tendency for misstatements (particularly about religions beginning with M) doomed him.  Experience as a candidate matters.

Newt Gingrich:  He had a horrible showing yesterday but he’s in as a vanity candidate.  He’ll stay in.

The Two Who Don’t Matter

Jon Huntsman isn’t competing in Iowa but he’ll stick around to try and spoil things for Romney in New Hampshire.  He’ll drop out soon afterwards and focus on his 2016 campaign.

Rick Santorum did well yesterday, but with Perry and Bachmann there is no space left for a third social conservative.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.