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Premature polling plays into primaries

With the the Iowa Caucus set for Jan. 3, only about two months remain until the Republican presidential primaries begin. The primary contest continues to be a battle between the moderate and conservative factions of the GOP. While Massachusetts Governer Mitt Romney has ursurped the moderate mantel, conservatives have not consolidated behind any candidate.

After a series of poor debate performances, Texas Governor Rick Perry has fallen drastically in national polls. However, polls merely offer an analysis of voters’ feelings about the race at one point in time. At this point in 2008, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Secratary of State Hillary Clinton were leading their respective primaries in opinion polls, though neither won.

Furthermore, nationwide opinion polling is pointless since presidential candidates are nominated based on delegates from individual states. In fact, Clinton picked up more primary votes than President Barack Obama, who still managed to win the majority of delegates.

The only polls that matter at this point are the early states, such as Iowa or New Hampshire. Currently, Romney leads in the early state polls.

If Perry can win in Iowa he will have a fighting chance. As of today, the nominee will likely be Romney or Perry. Romney has to keep conservatives divided while Perry has to win their support, a difficult task but not impossible.

Business executive Herman Cain has skyrocketed to top tier status due to Perry’s flop and a positive image. While performing well in national polling, Cain remains unlikely to win the nomination due to his lack of campaign funds, political experience and foreign policy knowledge. While the economy continues to be the most important issue in the GOP primary, a wrong position on any other policy can still bring down a candidate, as Perry has unfortunately learned after taking heat for illegal immigration.

If Cain focuses on winning the early primary states and minimizes gaffes, he has a chance. The next debate on Nov. 12 will focus on national security and Cain will have to perform well to prove he has more than just credibility on economic issues.

Cain’s biggest obstacle is presidential election history. The last president without political experience was Dwight Eisenhower. Besides military generals, every president has had some prior political experience. Though Cain has a good chance to win the nomination, the odds are clearly against him.

Romney has done everything right so far. He has the money, experience, organization and establishment backing. Unfortunately, he suffers from a lack of credibility. His past flip-flops have caused many conservatives to view him as a political opportunist. He still has been unable to get above 25 percent in national polling.

Since he has been unable to win the trust of conservatives, Romney has relied on their division to stay on top. However, if they consolidate behind either Perry or Cain, his electoral prospects will quickly dim. Regardless, he still currently has the best shot at the nomination.

The field is still too large and Republican voters remain indecisive. Thus, any predictions about the nominee at this point would be premature. By December the field should begin to consolidate.

For more political opinions, read the Oct. 4 article, Revised spending will decrease nation’s deficit.

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