COMMENTARY | In the circus that is American politics, the first real big top event will take place on January 3, 2012 as Iowans go to the polls for the first Republican caucus of this presidential cycle. I will be following the event closely to see if success in the opinion polls will translate into votes in the caucus. Going in, the top three contenders are Mitt Romney (23 percent), Ron Paul (22 percent), and Rick Santorum (16 percent). I know Mitt Romney of course from 2008. But I really don’t know anything about Ron Paul or Rick Santorum except that they have gotten significantly less media time than Romney and a whole bunch of lesser runners in the pack.
Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are tied in fourth place with 13 percent each. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, both of whom have gotten loads of attention, are much farther down on the list. These four it seems have garnered a lot of their media limelight from scandals and gaffes. It is a sad commentary on our culture that we focus so much on the spectacular losers and ignore the candidates who have a real chance at the presidency. After all, does anyone really expect Cain or Bachmann to become President?
At the moment, I consider Mitt Romney to be the only viable candidate for the Republicans in 2012. I expect Romney to win in Iowa and continue to win primaries. Romney, after all, is the only Republican who has a large enough appeal to win in a general election. The only issue with Romney of course is his Mormon faith, which is of concern to the conservative Christian voting block. As for the other candidates, I don’t see much hope. If Ron Paul or Rick Santorum do well in Iowa and continue to do well in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida they, perhaps, will warrant a more in-depth look. Especially so if Mitt Romney stumbles in Iowa and New Hampshire.
While it will be interesting to see the outcome of the Iowa Caucus, that is just a starting point. As a Michigander, I have a full 56 days after the Iowa Caucus to decide who to cast my vote for in our primary which tentatively takes place on February 28. In the world of politics, anything can happen in 56 days.