If nothing else is clear about the 2012 GOP precinct caucus race it is that there is little that is clear.
A new Iowa State University/Gazette/KCRG-TV9 poll of likely caucusgoers bears that out. It found Herman Cain leading the pack, but, perhaps, more importantly at this point in the campaign, the poll conducted by the ISU Political Science Department shows the race is wide open.
More important that the finding that Cain leads Texas Rep. Ron Paul 24.5 percent to 20.4 percent with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney coming in with 16.3 percent is the fact that among likely only 16.5 percent are firmly committed to one candidate.
“My take away from these results is that voters are still really unsure of whom they will support,” added Dave Peterson, interim director of the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at ISU and associate professor of political science, who also assisted with the poll. “Over half of the people are still trying to decide, and another third are merely leaning toward a candidate. When asked, people will express a preference for one candidate, but that they also will admit that this is a weak attitude.”
That’s what I found earlier this week at former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s campaign event in Anamosa. Although those I talked to had a preference for Santorum, they were not firmly committed.
“The people I visit with, they have two or three they follow,” Dennis Mulford told me. “Some might have it narrowed down to two.
“It’s anybody’s game,” he said noting that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has started to surge.
Richard Stivers had Santorum at the top of his dance card, but likes Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Cain. Santorum apparently moved Stivers out of the “leaning” category. After listening to Santorum, Stivers whispered as he went out: “I think I’ll stick with him.”
Jenn Jones, Santorum’s Jones County caucus captain, agreed few caucusgoers have settled.
“Everyone has a lot of questions,” Jones said. “They look at the polls, but there’s a lot of drama.”
That drama – brain freezes, long pauses and allegations of wrongdoing – is affecting Republican choices, said Hank Biere.
“People are waiting for the next one to stub his or her toe,” he said.
“One brain hiccup and you’re an idiot,” added Mulford.
Back to Washington: Bachmann has cancelled an appearance in Independence Nov. 18 as well as a meeting with The Gazette Editorial Board in order to return to Washington for to present her support for a balanced budget amendment. She plans to resume her campaign Saturday.
On the calendar:
Michele Bachmann Drake University, Des Moines; 2 p.m., Pioneer Hybrid, Johnston; 2 p.m., Pioneer Hi-Bred, Johnston
Rick Santorum, 7:30 a.m., Hamburg Inn, 214 N. Linn, Iowa City; 8:15, Iowa State Association of Counties, Coralville Marriott; 11:30 a.m., Iowa Association of Business and Industry; Des Moines; 5:30 p.m., Chad and Jill Kluver house party, Davenport
Rick Santorum, 7:30 a.m., Broadway Café, Burlington; 10 a.m., Papa Georges Pizza, Mount Pleasant; noon, town hall, Café Dodici, Washington; 2:30 p.m., Ottumwa Public Library; 5:30 p.m.; Godfather’s, Knoxville
Ron Paul, 1 p.m., Pizza Ranch, Vinton; 4 p.m., Lawrence Community center, Anamosa; 7 p.m., Hotel at Kirkwood, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd., Cedar Rapids
Rick Santorum, 9 a.m., Grace Church, Des Moines; noon, Patriot Outreach, Des Moines;
Ron Paul, 9 a.m., GOP pancake breakfast, Indianola Christian Church, Indianola
Rick Santorum, 2 p.m., Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, Des Moines; 7 p.m., house party, Steve and Amy Sherman, North Liberty
Rick Santorum, 8 a.m., town hall, Cottonwood Canyon, Waterloo; 10 a.m. Waverly Public Library; noon, Pizza Ranch, Oelwein; 1:30 p.m., Independence Public Library
Mitt Romney, Des Moines
ABC News and the Iowa Republican Party, live presidential debate
The Des Moines Register/PBS Newshour Republican presidential debate, Des Moines
2012, Barack Obama, campaign, candidate, candidates, caucus, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines IA, GOP, GOP field, Herman Cain, Iowa, Iowa Caucus, Iowa Democratic Party, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Tea Party, Waterloo