The Iowa Test Part 2
Huckabee acknowledges in the article that Iowa is going to be his largest test, going so far as to say that he needs one of the mythical 3 tickets out. Here's Mike:
Huckabee called the much-touted gathering in Ames the first real breakaway moment of the Republican contest, but added that the Hawkeye State's caucuses in early 2008 would prove even more decisive. "If I don't do well in Iowa, get one of the top three tickets out, then it's very difficult to move on from there,"
This quote sparked a discussion around Cooler HQ this morning. Which candidate in the race is most capable of sustaining a severe blow here in the Hawkeye state. Obviously the answer is not Huckabee or Brownback. Both are supremely aware that all their eggs lie in the Iowa basket. Brownback has said as much and is focusing almost all of his resources here and in South Carolina. Huckabee is said to be hiring an Iowa staff before anything else (though there isn't much evidence of that to this point). Clearly neither of these candidates could sustain a drubbing in Iowa and still go on to victory. Who could?
Our first instinct was Rudy. Everyone agreed. Then as we delved deeper it became apparent that Iowa will probably be more important to Rudy than anyone else. If Rudy falters in Iowa what happens next? A trip to New Hampshire, where McCain has already won and a state that Romney shares a border with (he's already up to 20% in the latest NH poll). After that? It's to South Carolina where Rudy's social views are even less relateable than they are to the Iowa electorate. Not to mention McCain has been endorsed by most of the key leaders and Romney seems to have soaked up the rest. So if Rudy stumbles in Iowa his next two challenges will be states where his opponents have major advantages. By the time he gets to friendly territory Feb 5th it will probably be too late.
McCain and Romney on the other hand both have organizations in NH, SC, and are building them nationwide. This will help them recover if they have an unsuccessful caucus night. (See Bush, Poppy 1988)
Once we had considered those institutional advantages it became clear how strong the Romney and McCain teams really are this early in the process.