As America tucks into turkey sandwiches now seems as good a time as any to assess the state of the presidential race. The first contests are now only a little over a month away with the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd and then the New Hampshire primary five days later.
The question about Obama is whether he can string together a series of good performance. To date, one strong one has invariably been followed by a weak one. If that remains the case, Hillary’s discipline and the fact that she makes fewer mistakes on the trail than any other politician in living memory should be enough to see her through comfortably enough.
The challenge to Romney in Iowa comes from Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas who first came to national attention for losing a ton of weight after been told by his doctor that his fat was killing him. He’s a folksy Baptist preacher with a ready wit who is pioneering a cheerful Christian conservatism. The worry for Romney is that with minimal money Huckabee is already within a couple of points of the lead, having tripled his support since the summer. Huckabee backers are also more certain they they’ll vote for their candidate than Romney supporters suggesting that an upset could well be on the cards.
Just how important Iowa is going to be, is demonstrated by the fact that the campaigns are expecting to work, and maybe even campaign, on Christmas day. By Januarty 4th, we won’t know for certain who the nominees will be but we will know what kind of contest we’re in for.