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Post Partisan
Posted at 04:48 PM ET, 01/02/2012

Who will win the Iowa caucuses?

We asked PostOpinions columnists, bloggers and editors who will win Tuesday night’s Iowa caucuses and why. Seven predicted Mitt Romney would come in first, five picked Rick Santorum, one picked Ron Paul and one picked Gary Johnson. Read their predictions below, and vote in our reader poll at the end of the post.

JONATHAN BERNSTEIN

Predicted winner: Rick Santorum

The polling is subject to such uncertainty that picking a winner from Santorum, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney is just guesswork. But I like playing long shots, so I’ll do that here — keeping in mind that which order those three finish in (if they do take the top spots) is not nearly as important as how high-profile Republicans react to the results.

RICHARD COHEN

Predicted winner: Mitt Romney

In June, Romney had 23 percent of the Republican caucus vote, according to the Des Moines Register poll. In October, he had 22 percent; in November, 16; and last week, 24. Using my patented and quite secret algorithm, Romney has averaged 21.5 percent, which should be enough right there to win the caucus. But he has improved his numbers since November, and because some people will not admit to pollsters that they will vote for the non-fiery, non-ideological and distinctly non-eccentric Romney, he will undoubtedly do better than his numbers suggest. He’s the clear winner.

Read Richard Cohen’s analysis of the Iowa caucus.

E.J. DIONNE JR.

Predicted winner: Rick Santorum

Momentum is important in Iowa, and Santorum seems to be consolidating the religious conservative vote. Rick Perry is also flat, which helps Santorum. My guess is that Mitt Romney runs second, though I think it will be a tight contest for the No. 2 spot between Romney and Ron Paul.

JAMES DOWNIE

Predicted winner: Rick Santorum

Santorum has the momentum in the polls, easily the best favorability in the field and the most committed supporters. In the Des Moines Register poll, 76 percent of his supporters said they will definitely caucus, compared with 58 percent for Mitt Romney and (despite the conventional wisdom that his supporters are the most enthusiastic) 56 percent for Ron Paul.

MICHAEL GERSON

Predicted winner: Mitt Romney

Romney will receive the stable, unspectacular support of party regulars that has survived every fit of anti-Romney exuberance. Rick Santorum will be second, taking much of Mike Huckabee’s evangelical and social conservative support from last caucus season. Santorum’s support, though not sufficient to gain the nomination, will prove durable. The former senator is neither a novice nor a Tea Party caricature. Meanwhile, Tim Pawlenty will continue to kick himself for his early departure from a winnable race.

Read Michael Gerson’s analysis of the Iowa caucus.

DAVID IGNATIUS

Predicted winner: Mitt Romney

When voters actually start voting, they will be looking for the Republican who can fix the mess in Washington through strong management, as opposed to ideological fervor. And that person looks increasingly like Mr. Bland Competence himself, Mitt Romney. The Republicans have been a flirtatious, fickle lot this year, but I would be surprised if they didn’t settle on the only person in this field who has consistently looked and talked like someone who could be president.

DANA MILBANK

Predicted winner: Gary Johnson

The Iowa Republican is nothing if not fickle. Rick Santorum is so 20 minutes ago. Newt Gingrich is so last week, joining fellow former front-runners Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann on the ash heap of history. After a last-second rally by Jon Huntsman, Johnson will prevail, because he is the only one left not to have had a surge.

KATHLEEN PARKER

Predicted winner: Mitt Romney

I’d place my bet on Romney in first place, followed by Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. The order of these placements is neither accidental nor insignificant. Rather, they represent the order of America’s priorities in this election year. First is the economy, and most believe Romney has the best skills for turning things around. In the hierarchy of Oz, he is the GOP’s brain. Next comes Santorum, who is the heart of traditional values. Not least, Paul is a lion of courage, who says all the things others dare not.

Read Kathleen Parker’s analysis of the Iowa caucus.

ALEXANDRA PETRI

Predicted winner: Rick Santorum

He’s bought everyone in Iowa at least one cup of coffee.

EUGENE ROBINSON

Predicted winner: Rick Santorum

The Santorum wave will crest at just the right moment, giving him a narrow victory over Mitt Romney, with Ron Paul coming third. Michele Bachmann will finish dead last. Santorum’s support seems passionate — 76 percent of his backers say they’ll definitely brave the plunging temperatures to go out and caucus — while Romney’s seem lukewarm. Committed conservatives may eventually settle for Romney, but they’ve flirted with everyone else in the field (except Jon Huntsman) and now have turned to Santorum. Fortunately for him, the caucuses are happening now — not enough time for the infatuation to fade.

Read Eugene Robinson’s analysis of the Iowa caucus.

JENNIFER RUBIN

Predicted winner: Mitt Romney

In the last week, Iowa Republicans have gotten serious about their presidential choices. Romney, who put all the pieces together in the nick of time, will narrowly capture first place with about 25 percent. Next will be the surging Rick Santorum with approximately 22 percent, as he consolidates evangelical support. In third will be an increasingly defensive Ron Paul at around 19 percent. The race then becomes a three-man contest, with Romney the heavy favorite.

Read Jennifer Rubin’s analysis of the Iowa caucus.

STEPHEN STROMBERG

Predicted winner: Mitt Romney

In the end, Republicans hate President Obama more than they hate Romney.

MARC A. THIESSEN

Predicted winner: Ron Paul

As of this weekend, half of Hawkeye Republicans polled said they might still change their minds. But Paul has one thing that Mitt Romney lacks — enthusiasm. Young Paul backers have descended on the state to knock on doors — and have been finding a receptive audience. Indeed, lots of folks may not tell pollsters they support Paul but vote for him when the moment comes. Still, the only way Romney comes out of Iowa weakened is if he loses to both Paul and Rick Santorum.

Read Marc Thiessen’s analysis of the Iowa caucus.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL

Predicted winner: Mitt Romney

Romney’s the vehicle for a GOP corporate establishment that is desperate to take back the party and whose bankrolling of Romney’s super PAC attack ads neutered Newt Gingrich. He’s the beneficiary of a fragmented evangelical vote; he’s reached out to persuadable voters and focused laser-like on the economy; he’s ready to do whatever it takes this time, including flip-flops on flip-flops and prevaricating about President Obama’s policies. And the weather’s supposed to be good.

By PostOpinions staff  |  04:48 PM ET, 01/02/2012

 
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