Iowa is weird… But complicated

The Politico’s Jonathan Martin has an interesting article on potential struggles for Rudy Giuliani in Iowa. Hotline’s Marc Ambinder has a partial rebuttal this morning. And Sunday, AP’s Mike Glover had an interesting story about difficulties faced by conservatives in Iowa right now:

As the 2008 race takes shape, these conservatives are no longer the unassailable force they once were, although they remain a powerhouse in Iowa’s GOP.

The role of Christian activists in the state is closely watched because of Iowa’s leadoff position in the presidential nominating season. At this point, however, there is little sign that activists are uniting behind a candidate or trying to channel the race in a particular direction.

And that is why Rudy Giuliani may yet have a chance in Iowa. Ultimately, winning Iowa is not about getting "the conservative vote". It is about identifying new people and swaying old people, and making sure that you place better than everyone else. Rudy’s coalition, with Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Sam Brownback fighting over conservatives, could very well become a plurality. Marc has the numbers for how this coalition would be put together.

When writing about politics, especially primary politics, people often forget that people don’t often vote in blocs. In fact, that is the exception. "The social conservatives" won’t stop Rudy because they will be too busy voting for other people. "The social conservatives" only beat Rudy if they manage to decide on a candidate before the voting starts. That said, I still have a question for the Giuliani campaign. Who are your volunteers? You need them in Iowa and New Hampshire. These are not fly-by states. Caucus-goers and voters want to meet the candidate and talk to his volunteers.