Disclaimer: These rankings are my analysis and not my preference. I have yet to endorse a candidate, and have no immediate plans to do so.
By Steve Deace
1. Ron Paul (18%)
If the Caucuses were held today he would win because he’s the only candidate with the combination of an excited base and an excellent organization. However, the Caucuses being held January 3rd could hurt him because a lot of his loyal young voters will still be on Christmas break.
2. Mitt Romney (16%)
He can fly in and buy double-digits the final month of the campaign if this remains as balkanized amongst conservatives as it currently is. There is no way he will finish with the 25% he got in a losing effort in 2008, but if things continue as-is he won’t have to.
3. Michele Bachmann (15%)
She has stabilized somewhat after an epic free fall since winning the Straw Poll, but still has a ways to go. The town hall with Donald Trump is an “interesting” way to generate buzz for her campaign.
4. Rick Santorum (14%)
Each day that Bachmann fails to go on offense, and Perry continues to implode, increases the chances he will be the surprise of these Caucuses. He’s working harder in Iowa than any other candidate right now.
5. Rick Perry (13%)
Still on the downward slide, with no end in sight until he finds a game changer. It’s been stunning to watch his fall from grace. It will be fascinating to see if he has a second wind.
6. Newt Gingrich (12%)
His speech on the judiciary will be music to conservatives’ ears after last year’s retention election, but he still needs an organization.
7. Herman Cain (12%)
I don’t know any serious conservative activists in Iowa who don’t have at least some doubts about his true motives for running, which is why beyond Facebook he has no verifiable presence in the state.