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Iowa caucuses still up for grabs, Politico says

It’s still too early to pick a likely winner in the Iowa caucuses, says Politico, which has got to be good news for Tim Pawlenty. Maybe not so much for current front-runner Michele Bachmann.

Writer Jonathan Martin notes: “Voters are uncertain about who they’ll support, loathe to make the wrong choice and as fixated on who’s not on the race as those candidates actually running.”

And he says:

Consider all the moving parts: Bachmann has emerged as the new frontrunner, but questions remain about both her still-developing organization and her ability to withstand the long haul. If she fades, it will open a wider path to tea party favorites not in the race — like Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sarah Palin. Also on the right is Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who has a stocked war chest, loyal following and determination to stay in the race through the caucuses, where he’s a safe bet to exceed the 10 percent he drew here in 2008.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is low on cash but his hopes could be revived by a strong straw poll performance. He could, however, also be eclipsed by Perry, a candidate who could garner support from party regulars as well as the tea party crowd. And if there are so many candidates dividing votes on the right, then Romney surely will be tempted to return to Iowa, to make a play for a plurality win that could lead to a knockout nomination victory following New Hampshire.

“Conservatives are looking for an alpha male but there isn’t one in the race and closest thing is a woman whose only been in Congress for three terms,” said Steve Deace, an influential Des Moines area conservative and former talk show host. “It’s very fluid.”

He reports:

Because of their heavy recent presence in Iowa, the two Minnesotans are being talked about frequently. Yet Republicans say they’re not wedded to either one.

Barbara Kniff, a business owner in Pella, said after a Pawlenty event in her town that she first was inclined to back Bachmann after meeting the congresswoman a month ago — but that now she’s not so sure.

She had kind words for Pawlenty — “he’s coming to the forefront, that’s for sure” – but she quickly added that she hopes he “get[s] a little tougher.”

“There isn’t somebody who’s really a clear frontrunner at this particular point in time, nobody that’s come forward in my mind and I think that’s the problem with the Republican Party right now, I think,” said Kniff.

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