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Chaos in Caucusland

Who’s going to win in Iowa? Who knows.

Dec 26, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 15 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Brittany Fiala, the Webster County volunteer coordinator for Paul, says the campaign expects 500 volunteers from around the country to descend on Iowa December 27 for a door-knocking, phone-banking effort they are calling “Christmas with Ron Paul.” Titus Landegent, the Plymouth County coordinator, says the campaign will continue to use unconventional ways to reach voters and to get them to the caucus sites. “I put two magnetic signs on my van and I’m just driving around,” says Landegent, who has been hosting strangers at his home despite the presence of a newborn. “If it snows on caucus day, I’m going to hire a dog-sled team,” he adds with a distant smile. He may not be kidding.

Rick Santorum has approached Iowa with dogged persistence. “I think he moved his family here,” says Lueck. Santorum has visited all 99 of Iowa’s counties, and his campaign says he has attended more than 300 townhalls across the state. He has focused on social issues more than the other candidates. Santorum is also counting on the strong network of home-schoolers in Iowa, whose support helped former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee win the caucuses in 2008 with a surprising 34 percent of the vote.

“I think Santorum is being underestimated in the polls,” says Tom Mitchell, who caucused for Romney in 2008 and says he would back Santorum if he thought he could win. “I go to a lot of events, and his support out there is a lot stronger than you’re seeing in the polls.”

The answers to the three questions may determine the winner of the caucuses and shape the primary season to follow. If Mitt Romney wins Iowa after a relatively minimal effort here, he’ll be heading to New Hampshire with considerable momentum and the best national organization of any candidate. But if Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul wins, the volatility we have seen in recent months may prove to have been a harbinger of even greater uncertainty in the months to come.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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