Bush, Christie, Kasich competing hard for 5th place in Iowa



For all you former George Pataki fans out there who need something else to occupy your time, try and figure out why Bush, Christie, and Kasich are spending so much time in Iowa.

While New Hampshire remains the hub of activity for Christie and other establishment-favored Republican candidates, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Iowa has suddenly emerged as a playground of opportunity, where an intense and stealthier battle among them is getting underway.

None of the establishment candidates expects to win Iowa, but associates of Christie, Bush and Rubio see an opportunity for a victory of momentum — and positive media coverage — for whoever can capture the most mainstream Republican support. That faction, which the campaigns see as up for grabs, is estimated at anywhere from 20 to 35 percent of the electorate.

Really? 20 to 35% at play? Have a look at the current poll standings of these candidates:

Of the establishment contenders, Rubio has been performing the strongest, running third behind Cruz and Trump with 12 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of recent state polls. Bush is at 4.8 percent, and Christie is at 2.3 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another establishment candidate, is at 1.5 percent, though he has had a more limited presence in Iowa.

Bush, Kasich, and Christie are all in the low single digits , competing for fifth place, and have been for some time. Cruz and Trump are way ahead, and even Rubio and Carson are in the low double digits. It's a stretch (no pun intended) for Christie, at 2%, to get ahead of Rubio in Iowa. So they're really competing for fifth or six place.

What's going on here is that Bush, Kasich, and Christie don't really believe they can even get to third place in Iowa. They just don't want an embarrassing finish at two or three percent (like where they are now) for fear it will lower them in voters' eyes in New Hampshire.

If they had been smarter, they would have publically written off Iowa altogether, and still gotten nearly the same vote they are polling at now. By refusing to participate further in Iowa, they can claim their bad results were at least partially due to lack of participation. Now when Christie gets 3% in Iowa on electon day, he won't even have that excuse.

These guys should be focusing all their energies on mushy moderate New Hampshire. Their only chance is for one of them to make a breakthrough there. But even a breakthrough there is unlikely to help two of them. Christie and Kasich simply don't have substantial campaign organizations in other states. If thye did manage a miracle in New Hampshire, they would not be in a position to take much advantage of it elsewhere.

Only Bush would, but he is such tainted goods now that his failure now is a self-fulfilling prophecy, with many voters saying they will avoid voting for him because they no longer see that he has any real chance. Trump has utterly deciminated the man politically.

So perhaps it doesn't matter if they play games in Iowa and try to look for persuadable George Pataki and Lindsey Graham supporters. But come New Hampshire, expect two of the three of them to drop out, and I'm guessing it will be Bush and Kasich.

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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