Ok. Maybe a few more than six...
1. We're about to spend a week analyzing the coin-flip in the political version of the NFC Championship game. (It’s not the Super Bowl…that would have to be the general election.)
A. About 100,000 Republicans will "caucus" and vote tonight in Iowa. (Explained below.)
B. If current polls held - Mitt Romney would win 23,000 votes, Ron Paul 21,000, and Rick Santorum 17,000 or so (from the RealClearPolitics.com poll average).
C. That would mean Romney wins 7 delegates, Paul 6, Santorum 5, etc. (This is the first year it isn't "winner take all". Meaning, winning by one vote won’t get you all 28 of Iowa’s delegates.)
D. Oh yeah, the delegates aren’t bound by tonight’s vote either. They can theoretically vote any way they wish at the convention.
E. New Hampshire, by the way, also isn’t “winner-take-all”. Twelve total delegates in the Granite State. First place will get something like 4 delegates. Second place will get 2.
2. So what’s the big deal? Nothing.
A. All of the above means we're going to hyperventilate for two weeks about a 3 delegate spread. 1,144 are needed to win the nomination. Are you digesting the numbers here?
B. That means the candidates are playing for media coverage and buzz and “momentum”.
C. That means Iowa is important because we say it's important … and we're going to talk about it … and what we talk about is important. Follow the logic?
D. That means 2,000 Iowans (the polling difference between Romney and Paul above) will dictate what we talk about for a week.
3. 40% of Iowans are still undecided or persuadable.
A. Understand how a caucus works. Iowans will show up to roughly 1,700 caucus stations (church basements, community centers, gyms) and listen to representatives of each campaign talk. They'll then grab a blank sheet of paper and write down a name.
B. I think this can help Santorum. Certainly the field is moving in waves of momentum for non-Romney candidates. The tide and momentum are coming in for Santorum.
C. I think this could also help Paul. His people are passionate and outspoken. Seems to fit a caucus environment.
D. But in the end, Romney is running away with "electable" stats. So...
4. Mitt Romney winning the nomination, if not Iowa, seems inevitable.
A. No GOP candidate has won both the Iowa caucus and NH primary in a contested election in the modern era.
B. I think Romney has a good chance to change that factoid.
5. Rick Santorum will affirm the above fact.
A. Santorum is perfectly tailored for Iowa where 60% of 2008 Republican caucus goers were described as evangelicals. But he’s perfectly imperfect for NH, one of the least religious Republican voter groups.
6. Jon Huntsman could be the Santorum of NH.
A. Santorum has visited all 99 counties and shaken the most hands in Iowa. It's working. Huntsman has been camped in NH for a month.