Iowa’s caucuses are one month from today. It seems like just three years ago we started the campaign. I can still remember when Chris Dodd was making that lame diaper service joke for the first time. Oh, the memories.
To commemorate the occasion, here are the top 5 campaign narratives that have turned out to be wrong.
1. Hillary Clinton is the certain Democratic nominee.It’s funny that the media built up Clinton into the inevitable winner while knowing full well the day would come when pundits would pounce on one stumble and portray it as a full-blown collapse. The so-called “piling on” debate last month was just such a feeding frenzy. Since then it’s been slide city, even though much ballyhooed Iowa polls showing Barack Obama ahead are statistically unchanged from the ones that once showed Clinton ahead a few weeks earlier. Margin of error, shmargin of error.
But Clinton might have helped herself by not playing into the stereotype again and again that she’s a calculating fake. She also miscalculated by waxing so often about the1960s and the 1990s ahead of what is looking more and more like a change election. Oops.
2. Barack Obama is a lightweight.We built him up as the next Lincoln, then tossed him aside as a naive fluff-peddler. Then he started hitting Hillary effectively, and we welcomed him back. Now he’s hot at what might be the exact right moment. Even some Republicans love him, except for the ones that have to run against him. The experience thing won’t go away, however. Funny how we like that quality in a president.
3. Mitt Romney will win Iowa easily. Romney’s appeal, like Romney himself, always seemed shiny and superficial. Republicans who didn’t like their choices settled on Romney as the best-looking, best sounding candidate — with piles of money to boot. But they still worried about his flipping and flopping. And If another bus came along, they might jump on.
That bus, surprisingly, was driven by Mike Huckabee. Who’d have thought a genuine guy who actually seemed to learn the lessons of 2006 could win a nominating fight with freshly repainted conservatives (Romney, Giuliani and Thompson) intent on replaying the fear election of 2004.
4. Rudy Giuliani can’t win the nomination without evangelicals. True, this one hasn’t been completely disproved, but the signs are there. Giuliani could win without renouncing his core beliefs on guns, gays and abortion. And that would be truly courageous if Rudy wasn’t also saying he would appoint judges certain to feed his core beliefs in the shredder. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
5. Obama and Huckabee are on their way to caucus wins. Sure, I know this is the current narrative. I just want to be among the first to say it’s wrong. Please don’t ask me why until January.
Honorable Mention — John Edwards will win if he gets angry, really angry…Fred Thompson is Ronald Reagan, only balder…Tom Vilsack will really help Hillary in Iowa…Joe Biden will stop speaking