1. Mitt Romney -- . . . His large staff and well-connected network of supporters keep him on top of what is otherwise a very volatile field. Although other candidates are showing signs of strength, Romney will not give up the top spot without a big fight.
2. Mike Huckabee -- Huckabee appears to be the flavor of the month. Although he failed to capitalize on his surprise 2nd place finish at the Ames Straw Poll to the degree many expected he would and turned in lackluster third quarter fund raising umbers, the winds seemed to shift a few weeks ago, and Huckabee started getting buzz . . .
3. Rudy Giuliani -- . . . Although one might expect Giuliani to slip farther down the list by January 3, we expect he would finish third if the caucuses were held tonight.
4. Ron Paul -- Paul's support comes from the least likely corners of Iowa, making it very difficult to measure with "likely voter" polls . . .
5. Fred Thompson -- Before Huckabee became the flavor of the month, there was Thompson . . . His national endorsement from Right to Life showed a glimmer of promise for his Iowa operation, but hopes were dashed when Iowa Right to Life decided to remain neutral.
6. John McCain -- . . . What remains of his organization here appears to be spread too thin, and his willingness to speak his mind about ethanol and immigration, among other subjects, has not won him many friends.
7. Tom Tancredo. . . a self-admitted one-issue candidate, he does not even seem interested in broadening his appeal.
8. Duncan Hunter
9. John Cox
Iowa Political Alert wants Huckabee to explain the details of his "lump sum Soc. Security one-time payout" (they also have this gem of an Ask Mitt Anything question from Orange Co., CA.)
"Huckabee proposed giving retirees a one-time Social Security payout."
It's a bold headline to be sure but we are still waiting to see the fine print. And Iowans had better start asking for it.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, is developing into something of the chattering class's pick as heir to the "compassionate conservative" mantle.
Huckabee's campaign did not return Iowa Independent's calls seeking more details on the plan, and a policy paper is either not available or not conveniently found in his promitional materials.
Others need to ask him for details, too. Mainstream media reportersand official Washington seem uninterested in the substance of his Social Security buyout idea. I contacted two Washington think tanks well versed in Social Security politics and neither was familiar with Huckabee's plan. Of course, if Huckabee's own buyout scheme has not moved past the scribbled-cocktail-napkin stage, no deeper analysis is possible.
The Real Sporer continues to be probably the most read and commented-on Iowa GOP blog (since the demise of The Krusty Konservative that is.) Bookmark that site for sure.
Antioch Road has an interesting twist on the Romney/Mormonism issue (he doesn't seem to be a fan of LDS history/theology, but he ends this post with:
Unlike Rudy Giuliani, I would vote for Romney in the general election if he were the Republican nominee, on the hope that he would act consistent with his recent conversion to cultural conservatism, but we have better options available.
Cyclone Conservatives talks about Senator Gregg's light-hearted "smack talk" of "Iowa picks corn, New Hampshire picks presidents". He shows some evidence that Iowa has as good of a track record as NH in picking presidents . . . but I think people are taking Gregg's quip too seriously.
Also, just by way of comparison (competition) with fellow GOP candidate's Iowa Blogs . . . Iowans for Fred Thompson went offline sometime in the past couple of months, Iowa for Fred Thompson was abandoned back in June, Straight Talk Iowa Style (McCain blog) was deserted over 8 months ago (within a week of Iowa's Caucus Cooler dying too . . . more evidence that McCain was paying bloggers to create "grassroots" appearing support), and Iowans for Huckabee has been dormant for the last 8 months (I think they must have actually examined his record). Rudy has never had an Iowa blog that I've noted.
However,Iowa Likes Mike started last month and has been active as far as frequent posting, but not getting much traffic or comments.