Iowa Looms As Last Chance For Some Candidates

The Iowa caucuses could spell the end of the line for several presidential candidates.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are the likeliest to pack up if the former Iowa caucus winners have a disappointing finish on Monday.

Iowa could also deal Ben Carson, Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina a crucial blow if they fail to outperform their spot at the polls. But most experts believe they’ll hang on with enough financial resources to pray for a backup plan. 

For Huckabee and Santorum, it’s a matter of money and poor polling.

Both candidates pegged their entire campaign strategy on Iowa, holding the top two spots for number of campaign events there, according to the Des Moines Register. But Huckabee hasn’t hit more than 4 percent in an Iowa poll since November, while Santorum hasn’t done so since July.

The Iowa results could be detrimental to their already lagging fundraising, hastening the need for a departure.

But some Republican strategists say that all of the candidates will wait it out regardless of their Iowa finishes and will continue at least until the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary, or even through the so-called SEC primary on March 1 to see if their messages resonate in the swing of Southern states.

“I think just about everyone will stay in through New Hampshire because everyone wants to knows how you play with evangelicals in Iowa and how you play with more moderate, mainstream voters in New Hampshire,” Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Read more from Ben Kamisar and Lisa Hagen at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy