Wednesday, January 11, 2012
All bets are off!
While New Hampshire and Iowa have very different demographics there are a couple of items from exit polling that really caught my eye.
In both states 46% of repsondants indicated that they had made up their mind in the last few days. While unfathomable to me, I expect that to continue in SC and Florida as long as the field stays somewhat intact. In Iowa this greatly helped Santorum and in New Hampshire it was a boon to Romney and to a lesser degree Huntsman.
While that 46% of the field is difficult to predict (really, really difficult), let's look at the 54% of the electorate who were more sure of their vote. In both contests so far Ron Paul has had 12% of the population locked up at least a month in advance. To me this represents his floor, I do not believe in any contest from now until June that he will do worse than that. Outside of Romney no other candidate has a floor greater than 4%.
As the race eventually becomes Romney vs Paul (question is when, not if), the establishment will try to portray it as; the "presumptive nominee" vs "the cranky old guy who won't go away". Before that happens, Ron Paul has got to show that he can get some of these "last minute" voters. South Carolina is the perfect spot to do this.
The field is still fractured enough that a win here is not impossible, but more importantly, if he can jump up to the 20% support level in a southern state then I think he shows serious muscle.
Even with no delegates in South Carolina or Florida, Ron Paul could enter Super Tuesday in virtual delagate tie with Romney. If that is the case, all bets are off!