Schoen: If Romney Loses Iowa, GOP Race Wide Open

Tuesday, 03 Jan 2012 04:37 PM

By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella

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It’s so close even the experts have no idea what to expect from tonight’s Iowa caucus results, top Democratic pollster Doug Schoen tells Newsmax.TV.

“We’ve had five front-runners in the Republican race,” he pointed out. “From where I sit, we could have still more if Rick Santorum defies some predictions and wins tonight.”

The former Pennsylvania Senator is the one whose campaign has been gathering steam in the final days before the vote with a Des Moines Register poll putting him within striking distance of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

“It’s anyone’s guess who’s going to win tonight,” said Schoen.

But the vote is all-important, he stressed. If Romney wins he will get “a huge leg-up” and will go into next week’s New Hampshire primary as the clear favorite and will then be well-positioned for the upcoming battles in South Carolina and Florida.

But if Paul, Santorum of one of the other candidates pulls a shocker, then the race is far from over.

“If Romney doesn’t win, we’ll have a very divided field – no front-runner – and New Hampshire will become more of a horse race as will, certainly, South Carolina and Florida.”

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It all comes down to momentum, the pollster said. “Whoever wins will get momentum going into New Hampshire and I would suggest that the polls that have been taken there will almost certainly be out of date before the ink is dry tomorrow morning.”

Schoen said it is still unclear whether either Iowa-born Michele Bachmann or Texas Gov. Rick Perry will still be around for next week’s contest in the Granite State.

“If Michele Bachmann does badly she may want to soldier on but she’ll be more concerned in holding her House seat than she will be in continuing to campaign,” he said.

“It depends how Rick Perry does. If he is competitive he may well carry on, but if he is at the bottom of the second tier he’ll have to almost certainly rethink the logic behind his candidacy.”

As for the last-minute mud-slinging, with Santorum calling Paul “disgusting” for airing ads that suggest that Santorum is not fully committed to an anti-abortion stance or to the Second Amendment and with Newt Gingrich calling Romney “a liar,” Schoen said that’s normal at this stage of a hard-fought contest.

“Newt’s been sinking and obviously it’s a time of frustration. He’s faced an unprecedented level of negative ads,” he said. “So I can understand the former Speaker’s frustration but I’m not sure that’s going to win him any support.

“Tomorrow, when cooler heads prevail, we’ll hopefully get back to the issues,” he added.

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