(note: apologies for not posting for 2 weeks. Started my new job w/ Akron Children's)
We're now 12 days away from the Iowa caucuses. Here's a summary of all the polling in the state since April. The lead has gone from Romney, to Bachmann, to Perry, back to Romney for a couple days, then to Cain, then Gingrich, now Ron Paul.
The prospect of a Paul win has been scaring the hell out of the Republican establishment, with the Iowa governor advising voters in other states to ignore the result if Paul wins. And he very well might pull it off, given his current lead in the polls and the strength and dedication of his organization. A major factor that's been holding back his campaign is a lack of media coverage. A win in Iowa would change that.
But a win is far from a certainty. As we saw after Newt Gingrich's rise, the knives will come out against whoever the frontrunner is. And, at least among the Republican electorate, Paul is extremely vulnerable to attacks. While voters would respect his economic views, his non-interventionist foreign policy is diametrically opposed to the traditional Republican approach. The other candidates' campaigns, and their super-PAC, will likely spend much of the next 12 days exploiting this vulnerability.
So I don't have a fucking clue who's going to finish anywhere from 1st-6th; pretty sure Huntsman will be 7th, but that's it. I think it's unlikely that Bachmann, Perry or Santorum would win it all, but any of them could finish a strong 2nd. With Romney's big New Hampshire lead, the result there almost certainly won't be "news", so the Iowa winner will likely get an even bigger boost than normal.
While I still think Romney wins the nomination, the shape the race will take is very much up in the air.