Even though numerous polls show Newt Gingrich with a wide lead in Iowa, The Fix’s Chris Cillizza thinks the race in the Hawkeye State is still fluid — and I agree. As evidence, he offers tidbits from an interview with Rep. Steve King, the solidly conservative, committed-to-Obamacare-repeal congressman from Iowa’s fifth district.
King, who had hoped to endorse a candidate as early as September or October, told Cillizza he’s not sure he’ll be able to endorse anyone at all because no “full spectrum conservative” has emerged as a truly viable contender:
In an interview Tuesday with the Fix, King said that while the race’s two current frontrunners — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney — have “articulated” a conservative policy platform “when you look at the records it’s a little harder to accept it all as its delivered.” …
On the other end of the spectrum, King said that while both Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum are unquestionably committed to the conservative cause, neither of them has been able to generate much excitement behind their candidacies in Iowa.
“Had either of them been able to catch some momentum, this would have been easier,” said King of his endorsement dilemma. “A candidate has to have their own fuel…to lift themselves off the launching pad.”
King is not the only Iowan who hasn’t completely made up his mind. A full 60 percent of Iowans say they might still change their opinions about their preferred candidate, according to a recent Des Moines Register poll.
At this point, the likely truth is that Gingrich’s lead in the state is solid. Not only does he lead the polls, but he still stands to gain from Herman Cain’s recent suspension of his campaign. Plus, in the very polls Gingrich leads, he’s a popular second-choice candidate — so mind-changing might benefit him as much as anyone. Gingrich himself says he’s most concerned about a Ron Paul pick-off in Iowa, but Ron Paul is a love-him-or-hate-him kind of candidate, so it seems unlikely Iowans who haven’t yet warmed to him will become Ron Paul disciples between now and Jan. 3.
Still, with all that in mind, Rick Perry’s planned push in Iowa — and his blatant attempts to pick up evangelical Christian voters in the socially conservative state — might not be totally in vain. Similarly, Iowans could surprise with votes for Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum, the most socially conservative candidates in the race. Point is, even with less than a month to go, Iowa is still winnable for more candidates than just Gingrich.