Rich Galen

In the most recent CNN poll in Iowa, Bachmann is - literally - in the middle of the second tier (Perry is at 9 percent, Bachmann 7, Santorum 5) and it is not unlikely some of the people who supported her in the Iowa straw poll in August might be giving her a second look.

Hold that thought.

Rick Santorum appeared to have more self-confidence in this debate than in the debates previous. He didn't seem as needy or as desperate as he has sometimes sounded. That might be because he has spent so much time in Iowa his kids would qualify for in-state tuition to a state university.

Santorum is all in, in Iowa and his performance might have lit a fire under conservatives who wanted to support him, but might have thought he didn't have the right stuff.

Hold that thought.

Ron Paul was Ron Paul. He is what he is and either you buy the act or you don't, and I think a significant number of Iowans do.

Paul's problem with a short-handed debate (Jon Huntsman didn't participate so there were only six lecterns on stage) is he is not very good at the "Let-me-respond-to-the-last-response" game that was the style of Saturday night's debate.

Nevertheless, Paul is very well organized in Iowa and is (at least in my mind) likely to be the big surprise in the Caucuses.

Hold that thought.

The thought I have been asking you to hold is this: Newt is leading the polling in Iowa by 13 percentage points over Romney (33-20) with Paul right behind at 17 percent.

If all of the non-Romney, non-Newt players in Iowa improved their positions, then that helps Romney because there probably are not many Iowans who are trying to decide between Santorum and Romney.

If the non-Romney, non-Gingrich candidates all generate more support, the majority of that support will come out of Gingrich's column not Romney's.

That might make January 3 a very, very interesting night.s

Ok. You can let go of that thought, now.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at