But Romney has what Gingrich does not have - lots of cash on hand to combat negative ads. Romney raised $14 million in the 3rd quarter alone. Further, Romney has the luxury of having a massive, commanding lead in New Hampshire, where he is polling at 41% with Paul and Gingrich tied around 11%. Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman - who slighted Iowa voters by not caring much about the Caucus and recently touting the old line about picking corn in Iowa, but picking Presidents in New Hampshire while being interviewed by a New Hampshire television station - is at 9%.
Being left out of the race are Rep. Michele Bachmann and Gov. Rick Perry. Robinson points out that Bachmann is the victim of her own bad campaigning. She is from Iowa, and has a long personal history with the state. But her style of reaching out to the voters is antithetical to the Iowa experience. She isn't overly accessible. She doesn't take many questions from the people. She's too insulated. Robinson also stated that since her win in the Iowa Straw Poll, Bachmann stumbled in her approach, and never recovered.
As for Perry, his excellent record as Governor aside, no one seems willing to 'forgive and forget;' Forgive the horrific debate performances, nor forget the horrific debate performances. Perry has been running a string of ads talking about faith, attempting to connect with the base of the party and turn people out on emotion. According to PPP, Perry is unchanged at 10%, behind Bachmann and only ahead of Huntsmann and somewhere out there former Governor Buddy Roemer.
There is no clear winner in Iowa, but there is a sense of who gets to move on in this contest. As they say here, it's about who will get their "ticket punched." From all accounts, there will be four tickets punched - Romney, Paul, Santorum and Gingrich. However, it's Iowa in 2012, and many don't believe any of the poll numbers. And many other voters still don't have a candidate just 24 hours out from the Caucuses. One great piece of advice I have received since I've been here - Count out no one.