The plot lines for the four early primary/caucus states are beginning to form. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads most polls in all four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida.
But in Iowa and South Carolina, the gap between Romney and businessman Herman Cain stands within the margin of error. And Texas Gov. Rick Perry trails far behind in all four states.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul has committed followers and an impressive cash machine, but he hasn’t been able to advance beyond 10 percent in polls. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has pretty much gone downhill after her Iowa Straw Poll victory in August.
And the campaigns of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman haven’t gained much traction.
Here’s how Politico
sees the first four states.
Iowa: Jan. 3
“The most unpredictable of the early states, Iowa stands as the best chance for someone other than Romney to win,” the news service states. Social conservatives may want an alternative to Romney, but they apparently haven’t settled on one yet.
New Hampshire: Jan. 10 (expected)
“Romney’s entire campaign is built around the premise that he will win New Hampshire,” Politico says. He has a house there and has put a bigger effort into the state than any other candidate. So it’s no wonder that Romney has a huge lead in polls there.
South Carolina: Jan. 21
This conservative state seems perfect for Perry, but he hasn’t made much of an impact there. Part of the problem is that Cain, locked in a virtual tie with Romney, has stolen his thunder. If different candidates win Iowa and New Hampshire, this state could be the decider.
Florida: Jan. 31
Money will be the most important weapon here, Politico says. That’s because the population is so spread out, with 10 separate media markets. So candidates have to pay up to get their ads on the air and their messages delivered to voters. Romney has a sizable lead now, but that means little before the three previous primaries/caucuses take place.
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