This is the first poll taken this year by Iowa’s leading newspaper. It was published tonight (Saturday). Mitt Romney 23% Michele Bachmann 22% Herman Cain 10% Newt Gingrich 7% Ron Paul 7% Tim Pawlenty 6% Rick Santorum 4% John Huntsman 2% Neither Sarah Palin nor Rick Perry was included in the poll. Palin is scheduled to campaign in Iowa this week. Pawlenty has campaigned heavily in Iowa without a lot to show for his efforts. He is the big loser tonight. The obvious question is whether, when two clear front-runners in Iowa have captured almost half the vote, there is any room for a relatively unknown candidate like Perry to carve out a constituency. Romney and Bachmann have campaigned heavily and have spent a lot of money in the state. What Perry has going for him is that he is a fresh face in a field of familiar faces. But the clock is ticking, and he is starting from behind. And Iowa is just one state, albeit an important one. I just don’t know if he has enough time to do all the things necessary to be competitive in the race for the Republican nomination. Consider, too, that Iowa is a caucus state, and caucus states are much harder to organize (as Hillary Clinton found out) than states that have more traditional electoral processes. I do not underestimate Perry, but it is realistic to say that he faces formidable obstacles in building an organization capable of making a national race.
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