The latest polling out of Iowa suggests that Ron Paul is in the lead, Mitt Romney is in second place and that any one of four losers could “win” third place. Here is analysis from Nate Silver:
The most interesting thing about the latest polls in Iowa … is that they essentially show a four-way tie for third place among the Republican presidential contenders, with Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry all projected to receive between 11 and 14 percent of the vote.
This is especially interesting because these candidates, with the partial exception of Mr. Gingrich, have very similar platforms to one another. They are hoping for support from many of the same demographic groups, especially evangelical voters, and have struck many of the same themes in their attempts to appeal to caucus-goers.
If these candidates could somehow combine forces, they could very easily win the caucuses. Even if you exclude Mr. Gingrich from the group, Mr. Santorum, Mrs. Bachmann and Mr. Perry collectively have about 34 percent of the vote, well above the projected figure for either Ron Paul or Mitt Romney, the candidates leading the polls.
I cannot recall another instance in which you had a configuration of candidates quite like this one. I’m sure there have been cases in the past where you had a multi-way tie for second or third place in advance of a primary or caucus. But probably not one in which the candidates involved in the deadlock were so similar, or when they were each within striking distance of first place.
Why do we care who comes in third in Iowa? Because one or more of the three who don’t “win” third place will likely drop out sometime next month, probably before they have to compete in the first expensive, big-state primary in Florida, on Tuesday, January 31.
Nate Silver is being polite when he refers to the voters these bottom-feeder candidates have been competing for as “evangelicals.” In reality, these voters are anti-democratic Christianist theocrats and adherents of hate groups like the Family Leader, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the rest of the racist, Republican Party front groups with deceptively homespun-sounding names.
None of these candidates will ever be president, not in a million years, so their being forced to drop out next month will abruptly shove them off of the national media soap box from which they have been spewing anti-gay rhetoric and racist dog whistle messaging for the past year.
Good riddance. It can’t come a minute too soon.