In Iowa it could be a tie. If you look at the polls collectively or individually they are all within the margin of error. Now it’s possible the Des Moines Register poll, regarded as the “gold standard” in Iowa, has a better model than everyone else and the result won’t be razor thin. But at this point it just matters who shows up and drags a few of their friends. It is interesting that Huckabee is cultivating local bloggers but his real strength will likely come from evangelical church members who bring their friends and neighbors and really don’t give a darn what the pundits are saying. If it really is a virtual tie both Huckabee ( “I wrestled the $9M Romney machine to a draw”) and Romney ( “I came back from double digits down two weeks ago”) will claim victory but neither will enjoy a big lift of the type the “early primary” strategy envisioned.
Such a resuIt will only serve to heighten the focus in NH where theUnion Leaderis pounding Romney on a daily basis. The latest from the editorial page is not anything we haven’t seen but the referenced factcheck.org is devastating, not so much on immigration which is not a winner for McCain, but on Romney’s record on taxes: “We also find the ad’s claim that ‘Romney cut taxes’ to be misleading. It is true that Romney proposedsome income tax cuts that the Democratic-controlled Massachusetts Legislature rejected. And he did succeed in cutting some taxes – for example, he enacted property tax relief for seniors and approved business tax credits – but overall tax rates remained the same. The conservative Club for Growthsaidhis term included ‘some solid efforts’ but that ‘overall, Romney’s record on tax policy is mixed.’ Indeed, he increased state revenues significantly…In 2003, to help close a big budget gap, he pushed through a number of increased state fees that brought in $400 million in their first year. For example, he doubled fees for marriage licenses and other court filings. He also quintupled the per gallon delivery fee for gasoline (money that is supposed to be for cleaning up any leaks from underground fuel tanks). Romney also ‘closed loopholes’ in the corporate tax structure, a move that generated another $150 million in increased revenue.” Factcheck.org then makes the point that by cutting aid to localities the tax burden was shifted from the state to cities and towns. Romney will have his work cut out fighting McCain and all the free media helpers he’s collected.UPDATE: But at least McCain still has a sense of humor.