Mitt Romney- Mitt has been in the lead or had a share of the lead since the inception of the Cooler Line and there’s been good reason for it. He was the first candidate to put together a ground game in Iowa, he spent a lot of money helping Iowa GOPers in 2006, and he’s secured key endorsements like Doug Gross and Chris Rants. The capable Gentry Collins is leading his Iowa organization. Recently he’s been a little quieter on the ground, but he’s added Stew Iverson, and gone up on TV in the Hawkeye state. With all the good things going on for Mitt, the problem is that his poll numbers and public perception have taken a bit of a hit. The media’s narrative of Mitt as a flip-flopper has saturated and it is mentioned in most news-stories about him. Also if you are going to advertise on TV you have to move in the polls. But for Mitt it’s not the horserace numbers that are concerning but the favorability ratings. While Giuliani and McCain have overwhelmingly favorable perceptions, Mitt’s is about 50/50. All in all, Mitt still looks very strong in Iowa, but not as strong as he did a couple weeks ago. He goes from 3-1 to 7-2.
John McCain- The straight talker has now been to Iowa twice, holding 7 townhall meetings across the state. McCain’s positive’s in Iowa are clear. He has put in place all of the major pieces in President Bush’s Iowa organization. He has shown he’s going to be committed to playing here, with 2 trips (both of which he skipped Senate votes for) and a big Iowa staff. He also has drawn large crowds across the state and shown that he won’t be afraid to meet with Iowa conservatives, listen to their questions and tell them what he thinks. McCain’s poll numbers in the state also look better than they have elsewhere. The problem for McCain is that there is still a vocal contingent of conservatives who don’t trust him because of his maverick reputation, and the spector of Rudy’s gaudy poll numbers put a shadow on his trip. Team McCain also is still running neck and neck with Romney in the endorsement battle, but they haven’t been able to separate. All these factors bring McCain down a half-step from 3-1 to 7-2
Rudy Giuliani- When we started writing this line-change our intent was to put Rudy in a 3 way tie with Romney and McCain. But the more we discussed around Cooler HQ we just couldn’t pull the trigger. Rudy hasn’t been in Iowa since November. He has to our knowledge only 2-3 staffers in the state. The Nussle endorsement was huge, but outside of that we’re forced to wonder, "where’s the beef." Rudy’s poll numbers are sky high. For that reason alone it’s impossible to place him any lower than we have. That said Rudy must prove that those poll numbers will stay high after he faces more scrutiny for his positions. He also has to prove to us at the Cooler that he is committed to putting together a winning Iowa organization. In the end though, polls don’t lie. Rudy goes from 5-1 to 4-1.
OK that was a lot longer than we thought it was going to be so here are the other candidates in brief.
Brownback and Huckabee stay pat for now.
Tommy Thompson is the one 2nd tier candidate who has shown he’s going to take Iowa very very seriously. As a result he moves from 35-1 to 28-1
Jim Gilmore isn’t acting like a candidate anymore. He moves down to 90-1.
George Pataki is out of the race as far as we’re concerned so we’re moving him OFF the Cooler line.
Chuck Hagel’s non announcement/announcement was just goofy. He moves up to 85-1 just because he seems a little more serious than Gilmore.