It looks like we’re down to one possible late entry into the 2012 Republican primary race: Sarah Palin. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declined entering the race. He said he has a commitment to New Jersey which is he is unwilling to abandon. I respect that. Despite big money donors who desire to play kingmaker and unexpected encouragement and strategy advice Christie demonstrated that he indeed is a man of his word and will let his “no be no,” (Matthew 5:37).
I believe it is extremely unlikely that Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will change his mind. That leaves us with our current field and a forthcoming announcement from Palin about her intentions one way or the other. Politico reports a law firm associated with Governor Palin has been making inquiries about early state deadlines.
One candidate, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, believes that the table is set. I don’t know if that is her conviction or her desire, but the health of her campaign either way is in doubt. If Palin gets in I believe Bachmann will be finished. With Palin out her campaign still has some life. I still believe it isn’t too late for Palin to enter, but as I’ve said before the clock is ticking. With the Iowa Caucus likely getting pushed up to the first week in January she will not have much time to win over voters in Iowa.
We are in a unique situation in Iowa. Nobody seems to have momentum. Cain appears to be on an upswing nationally, but I haven’t seen a surge in Iowa or New Hampshire. National polls do not mean much in a state by state primary race. Texas Governor Rick Perry is in decline. Former Senator Rick Santorum has certainly been impressive in the debates, and has campaigned hard but it still hasn’t seemed to pay off. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich also has performed well in the debates, but that isn’t translating into frontrunner status. I believe Congressman Ron Paul will be in the top four on Caucus night, but I would only predict Paul winning if we have a really bad blizzard the night of the caucus. I mean that as a compliment as he has devoted followers, but there are not enough of them to pull it off.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has also run an effective campaign, has debated well, and has stayed on message. I don’t see his base of support growing. He will only win the Iowa Caucus if the rest of the field remains divided. His RCP polling average in Iowa is 18%, and the latest poll done by American Research Group has him leading with 21%. In 2008 he came in 2nd with 25% and I don’t believe he’ll improve or even match that number.
The ARG poll also has 15% being undecided, more than when they polled in July. That still coupled with dissatisfaction with the field leaves an open door for Palin to enter late. She has a hard filing deadline of October 28th to be on the ballot in New Hampshire so her decision will likely be coming soon.
Update: Palin says no to a 2012 run.