Good Ol' Iowa

Ever since Jimmy Carter door-to-doored his way to an eye-opening Iowa victory in 1976—he actually finished second to “uncommitted,” but he beat the other candidates—the first-in-the-nation caucuses have played a supersized role in both parties’ nomination processes. In spite of quadrennial grumblings about Iowa becoming “less relevant,” it never happens. The charm of Iowa isn’t just that it’s usually won with old-fashioned, shoe-leather campaigning; it’s also that the state’s caucus-goers, in both parties, are so full of surprises (see: Pat Robertson, John Kerry, Mike Huckabee). And with the media’s collective binary brain desperate to boil down the GOP race to Gingrich versus Romney, Iowa just might be poised to uncork another shocker in 20 days. Ron Paul, anyone?

So They Say

"I don’t want to be called a xenophobe. I want to be called intelligent.”

—Rick Santorum, explaining his support for airport profiling at a campaign event in Des Moines

Daily Meme: Ron Paul Revolution

  • Could Paul win Iowa? “Absolutely,” says the National Journal.
  • Ross Douthat says Paul is the Tea Party’s “beau ideal.”
  • Chris Cilizza calls Paul the “critical X factor in Romney’s winning calculus.”
  • Andrew Sullivan endorses the Texas congressman, calling him “a decent fellow.”
  • Red State begs to differ.

What We're Reading

  • Bain Capital may become Romney's Achilles' heel in the general election, but Gingrich's jab at the former Massachusetts governor's time at Bain wasn't the wisest idea.
  • A closer look at President Obama's campaign strategy.
  • An even closer look: The Obama campaign is trying to reproduce the president's 2008 coalition with statistics, now that hope is a little out of reach.
  • Electability isn’t swaying GOP voters.
  • Why is Team Mitt using discredited John Sununu as its attack dog?
  • Christine O’Donnell endorses Romney, praising him for “being consistent since he changed his mind.”

Poll of the Day

A new Public Policy Polling poll in Virginia shows that Obama leads Romney and Gingrich at margins roughly the same as his 2008 victory over McCain, numbers that have good implications for the president's chances in the state, as well as nationally.