There are only 74 days between now and the Ames Straw Poll on August 13th. There may, or may not be, another Republican in the field before the Iowa Caucuses on February 6th, 2012, but the field for Ames is set. Last cycle, Mitt Romney flooded Iowa State University with money and volunteers netting him first place with 4,516 votes (31.6%). This time around, however, Romney is indicating that while he will compete in the straw poll, he will not be committing the same kind of resources he did before.
So who will win? Here is how Intrade is currently predicting the field:
Michelle Bachmann 27%
Ron Paul 20%
Tim Pawlenty 18.5%
Mitt Romney 15%
any other 10%
That leaves Paul and “any other.” While Paul is investing far more on the ground in Iowa than he did in 2008, its hard to see Iowa conservatives not gelling around a more traditional conservative. Why not Herman Cain? Also often overlooked about 2008 is the role the Fair Tax played in Mike Huckabee’s second place finish. Cain is the only option in the field for Fair Tax supporters. He’s extremely popular with the Tea Party crowd, and his social conservative credentials are unchallenged. 10% seems a bit low, no?