QCI GAMEDAY POST: Iowa Caucus Edition - Part 2: Breakdown and Predictions

EDITORS NOTE: Again, the following is a collaboration of thoughts from four anonymous loyal readers of QCI. Ginormous thanks to writing team. The following is the transcript of the back and forth.

CHRIS FOWLER: Welcome back to the QCI Gameday Post: Iowa Caucus Edition. On a very heavy football day here in the Hawkeye State, the candidates are all… how would you say it Beano?

BEANO COOK: All up in here.

FOWLER: That’s right. Today we are going to break down the contenders and of course get the predictions from our great panel. Erin, you’ve been out there on the sidelines, so to speak. Let’s start with someone very much in the news for what may be unfortunate reasons. Michelle Bachmann.

ERIN ANDREWS: Well, this lady came out of the gates and everyone was majorly crushing on her. Sure, she’s tiny and kinda cute – but then you get the sound bites………yikes. Got a whole lot of crazy coming out of her mouth and the crazy is not issues. I’ts things like the John Wayne (Gacey) fiasco - eek. Not a good move. From her lack of timeliness to her verbal blunders, she flamed out faster than Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage.


ANDREWS: That said Bachmann has begun to grow on me. When you go to one of her events, she’s rather likeable in person. Too bad she was late everywhere on her bus tour.

FOWLER: Iowans won’t stand for being late all the time. Kirk, were the gaffes really an issue?

KIRK HERBSTREIT: You know, Chris. Bachmann came out with a great offense. She started out by announcing that she wasn’t announcing at the New Hampshire debate, but she would be announcing soon. Yes, I’m confused, too. Then she launched her Iowa campaign in Waterloo, her birthplace. There were a few hiccups following that announcement, like claiming that John Wayne was from Waterloo. One problem. John Wayne is not from Waterloo; serial killer John Wayne Gacy is from Waterloo. Still, she was the early favorite and had all the momentum.

FOWLER: Oh cmon guys, like you knew where John Wayne was born….

HERBSTREIT: Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll by edging out Ron Paul and never answering a question directly. Kirk Ferentz loved that strategy. Bachmann’s demise started after she got rid of the great strategist Ed Rollins. Following his departure, Bachmann tanked. She refused to go in to events until staffers had checked the lighting, she was late to almost every event, she refused to hold media availably after events and would drown out tough questions with loud music, she pulled a Cam Newton and stole the homeschoolers email list (allegedly), refused to put on a mustache at Gov. Branstad’s birthday party, and failed to secure what many thought was inevitable, the Steve King endorsement. Then, Bob Vander Plaats asked her drop out and support Santorum. Ouch.

FOWLER: So many great references. So little time. Coach, break down the Bachmann candidacy.

LEE CORSO: Take a look at Michele Bachmann, ya know Kirk I am old and very gender bias.


CORSO: Yea, Kirk I am bias towards females unfairly over males and I love this lady. What’s this mother raised 13,000 foster children or something? You got to have character, leadership and compassion to do that and this lady's got it. Ya know what else she’s got? Fight, and a lot of it so you can never count her out. She's also got a great conservative foundation and philosophy which is what the GOP needs. But its not what she's got that's holding her back, it's what she doesn't got. And what she doesn't got is very important for this time in history, and that's accomplishments. She has accomplished a lot personally and that's why she’s great. But legislatively she has great stances and positions but Kirk if you can’t move the ball towards the goal line you’re not going to score - and if you don't score, we lose. There is a reason that when you play your 12 year old cousin in NCAA football 12 you dominate him every time. It’s because he throws the hail-mary pass every play except for on 4th down when I’ts a fake punt. So while I really like Bachmann’s female conservative tenacity it’s the failed hail-mary passes and poor play calling that holds me back. But I'll tell you guys another thing if she wins I can’t wait to support her over the current quarterback in the White House.

FOWLER: Interesting coach, now this Kent Sorenson mess that has happened. What do you all have on this?

BEANO: We measured men by their worth and their handlebar mustache in my day. And this man couldn’t grow a man’s mustache if I spotted him half of Franz Ferdinand’s broom pusher.
FOWLER: Not sure if this is a slam or under handed shout out to Governor Branstad. Erin?

ANDREWS: This last play is shocking! My thought is this isn’t going to do impact Ron Paul all that much – he’s already got a huge fan base. But this is devastating to Bachmann. Right Coach?

CORSO: If Kent doesn't look out for Kent, who will? I think Mr. Sorensen said it best when he said, "everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn't I.” I think of course he is only referring to those who run in that limited group of for-profit social conservatives. It was just days ago when the Senator was allegedly threatening to "burn in effigy" a like minded and similar type of social conservative activist for endorsing Santorum over Bachmann? Kirk, let me tell you there’s one thing that you can count on with Senator Sorenson and that's Kent is going to always do what is in his best interest.

HERBSTREIT: No comment here, Coach. Senator Sorenson’s actions speak for itself.

FOWLER: This is wishful thinking, but hopefully this is the last we’ll hear about all this. Moving on to another contender. Newt Gingrich. Coach, why don’t you start us out here.

CORSO: Chris, I love this guy. He throws hay makers and connects. Newt Gingrich has the intellectual horsepower that the GOP is craving for. George W and the straight talk express didn't have people jumping out of their seats with their rhetorical historical perspective and pure simple IQ level. I tell ya, I haven't seen a guy with this much communication skill since the Ole' Gipper, or a guy with this much genius since the Stein of Ein. When he speaks all listen because he can articulate the conservative point of view so well a liberal journalist professor from Iowa City would even be speechless. I'm telling you this guys Heisman material. Like a rocket arm, and pin point accuracy. But this mad scientist is sometimes just that, mad. And I don't mean pissed off, dammit no swearing I almost forgot. No guys, is this guy JaMarcus Russell/Ryan Leaf, or Peyton Manning/Dan Marino. This genius is like many others, they are very disorganized and have difficulty sorting out the great ideas from the bad. We have a real wild card here Kirk. I'd love to run with the good, but worried we might want to run away from the bad. Sometimes you got to take a chance on the franchise Savior. Will the GOP?

HERBSTREIT: Oh c’mon, Coach. Newt’s reminded me a lot of John McCain in 2008. The crafty veteran who may be seen as the candidate whose turn it is. Newt is a great ideas man, but his lack of discipline and lackluster organization will haunt him.

CORSO: Not so fast my…

HERBSTREIT: Let’s be real here, Coach. Newt got off to an awful start. He criticized Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to reduce the budget on “Meet the Press,” was called an embarrassment to the party in Dubuque (it was caught on camera), got glittered, had his Iowa staff walk out on him (only to return to him once he became the front runner), and was called out for racking up big debt at Tiffany’s and on private jets.

CORSO: Kirk, THE Ohio State University football program spent 20 times more on tattoos.

HERBSTREIT: His lack of organization will hurt him, Coach. In an election when the two other frontrunners, Paul and Romney, have been organizing for 5+ years, Gingrich can’t afford to be flying to Virginia to gather signatures to get on the ballot. His lack of organization and money showed when Perry, Paul and Romney began hammering him on the airwaves after he became the frontrunner. A tele-town hall will not put the attacks to rest. You must fight fire with fire.

FOWLER: I may have to separate you two. Erin, are these two making sense?

ANDREWS: When I listen to this guy, I think that I can really get behind him. He’s got solutions, not just ideas and platitudes. Buuuut then I walk away and think “ugh, baggage…” I still can’t get past the comments Newt made earlier this year to “explain” his poor personal choices years ago.

FOWLER: The baggage comes out. But that’s not all, is it?

ANDREWS: Chris, it’s kind of a schizophrenic campaign. He’s organized… his staff quits… he’s MIA in Iowa… he’s back in Iowa… his former staff comes back. I’m confused. I guess I’m still irritated that he skipped on the Iowa Straw Poll and that this campaign hasn’t put much boots on ground effort here.

FOWLER: Good ole Iowan grudges. Beano, do I dare ask your thoughts on Newt?

BEANO: Back when I was a sprout, we didn’t get divorced, let alone 3 times… we sucked it up and ate terrible food from an unhappy soul dead wife. I just don’t see how anyone would elect Wade Phillips, he’s an ok defensive coordinator, but he just isn’t a good head coach.

FOWLER: Why is Beano here again? Let’s keep up with this pace everyone. A name that will surely light up the hit counts… Ron Paul. Let’s start with you, Erin.

ANDREWS: This guy has a cult following. But the cult is ginormous. And organized. His events are hugely attended, and the people who show up aren’t your typical Republican event goers. The thing I can’t get past is every time RP talks, it sounds like he’s just making up as he goes along – but people are taking it and nodding their heads. Just proves if you say anything with enough conviction, people believe it’s a fact.

CORSO: Have you seen the good Doctors TV ads!? They're great!!! And guys, Ron Paul has been running a classic Iowa campaign, and shocker, I know -- it works!

HERBSTREIT: Exactly right, Coach! Paul’s organization is top notch and is able to mobilize on its own. Much like Romney, the people who were with him in 2008 are still with him. But, unlike Romney, Paul continues to build new support and now has a higher floor than the other caucus candidates. Less than 20% in the caucus seems very unlikely for the Texas Congressman. Paul recently had over 1,000 people at an Ames event. A fluke you say? He had 600 in Bettendorf. Paul’s message is resonating in Iowa and the stars could be aligning for him to win on Jan. 3rd.

ANDREWS: I don’t know, boys. To me, he doesn’t seem to need much of a formal organization – his followers were out at shopping malls on Christmas Eve telling people to go to the caucus for Paul. It seems as though the Paul campaign is very grassroots – his folks are doing these things on their own (as far as I know). Now, they really need to work on learning the law about where campaign signs can and can’t be placed (hello? Can’t put them in right of ways or on poles) Oh wait, they don’t believe in regulations…never mind.

FOWLER: Lots of questions on what is going on with this Ron Paul organization. I, myself, have been impressed. I guess this is why we play the game. Kirk, let’s stay in the state of Texas so to speak. Rick Perry.

HERBSTREIT: Rick Perry was thought to be the conservative’s savior. He turned out to be a flawed candidate who failed to demonstrate he was intelligent enough to be president. His “oops” moment mortally damaged his campaign. He seemed to make several good hires in Iowa, but the campaign never got going.

CORSO: Kirk, he has raised a lot of cash. Put together a great organization. Has run some good ads, some bad. Came in hot, looking for that spark again. He is possibly the most personable candidate running but doesn't have the rhetorical prowess that the GOP is looking for this cycle.

HERBSTREIT: But Coach, no one seems to know if his weak Iowa organization is because of the flawed candidate or because a lack of staffer motivation. I’m guessing it is more to do with the candidate. I have yet to meet someone, who isn’t paid by Perry, that is supporting Perry. I predict single digits on Caucus night.

FOWLER: I don’t know guys, I think he has a great team and has been hitting that State hard here in the last quarter. Is that what you’re seeing on the sidelines, Erin?

ANDREWS: I have received more pro-Perry mail than any other candidate; I guess I fit in their target universe. His organization has really stepped it up in the last month or so, doing a bus tour and is ring is huge. I wonder if that’s from a Super Bowl? And, how can you not like a guy who has a Van Halen song as his ring tone?

BEANO: I’ve had to get my spectacle re-adjusted to read all of his mail he’s sent out this month. Tough for someone who worships the golden dome to get behind a TEXAN.

FOWLER: All Notre Dame, all the time Beano. Two more candidates left to break down. How about one who’s topping the charts late. Mitt Romney, Coach. Does he have enough comMITTs to win a championship?

CORSO: Take a look at this guy, he's beautiful. I think they made him in a plastic mold. Do they grey his hair one strand at a time just so it’s perfect? I don't know. But Mitt is Mitt. Disciplined, well spoken, strategic, consistent. Everybody knows it, and about 20-25 percent like it. Which may explain why he maintains support at 20-25 percent. Weeks ago they said that as though it was negative. Lately they're talking about how great his steady support is. The rest are looking for a Mitternative but have not been able to agree on which one. And he who hesitates is lost. If Mitt wins Iowa, this nomination is pretty well over. And we could do worse, no doubt.

ANDREWS: Coach, it’s essentially the same players as four years ago but this time instead of the major organization you have a “once and a while” campaign strategy. He’s in Iowa for a day, and then a month later he’s back. I get it, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

HERBSTREIT: Erin, it’s not just “once and a while”. His Iowa team is small and mighty. The team started out in an apartment attic tucked away off of Ingersoll. Their early job was to make sure they didn’t have any local-level defectors from 2008. From what I can see, they didn’t lose a great deal of local support. This will be invaluable on caucus night. Their people believe in Mitt, have stood by him for years, and have heard all the attacks. I suspect they will be ready for the attacks on caucus night and stand up for their candidate at their local precincts.

FOWLER: Somewhat diverse reaction to Mitt Romney here. I know G$ had been harping a lot on 99 county chairs lately. He may have a point. Remember, the Romney folks had a pretty solid organization 4 years ago. So Kirk, I think, is on to something. Speaking of organizations and really doing it the Iowa way. Rick Santorum.

BEANO: Santorum has reminded me of an old Florida State squad. He’s putting everyone on their schedule, all 99 counties. They’re beating who they have to. Running up scores… like a Bowden. Bobby sure does have some nice sweater vests.

CORSO: Beano, Slick Rick has really worked hard in Iowa. And for that he will be rewarded by exceeding his expectations. By how much is the question since those expectations were so low to begin with. Guys, this Santorum fella has had very consistent debate performances when given the chance to speak. He has great, thoughtful policy positions which have kept him in consideration by many. It is really hard to pick Rick apart on anything. He is a solid candidate and would make a very stiff match up for the President.

ANDREWS: Santorum has put in the most effort and time getting to all 99 counties, getting some key (and not so key) endorsements, but he can’t seem to gain any traction. All I can guess is there is something that people just can’t get their arms around. Perhaps it IS the fact that he’s been to all 99 counties and just doesn’t have the personality that people are looking for.

HERBSTREIT: I don’t know, Erin… And I never thought Santorum stood a chance in this Presidential race. Now, I think he could be the Huckabee of 2011/2012. Conservatives trust him and his positions have not changed. He is a nice, personable guy who connects well in retail politics.

FOWLER: He has been after it, hasn’t he Kirk?

HERBSTREIT: Chris, all I know is that Nick Ryan, Jill Latham and Cody Brown have done a great job with former Sen. Santorum. They bought in early to the Branstad/Grassley model, visiting all of Iowa’s 99 counties. And Santorum did the visits the right way, not like Bachmann who arrives to the stops on her tour 50 minutes late and only stays for 10 minutes. Santorum put in the time and it will yield dividends. He will out-perform polling on caucus night. Book it.

FOWLER: I can see the mascot box being brought to the stage. It is time. Predictions. It’s been a long, long ride. Let’s have ‘em. Beano, how is it going to go on Tuesday night?

BEANO: My top three are Romney first, Paul second and the Newt in third. Watch out for Rick Perry, he’s Texan, you know… and the real question that has been missing this entire cycle. WHERE THE HELL IS ALAN KEYES!

FOWLER: Alan Keyes… and the ghosts of Caucuses Past have arrived. Erin, your top 3?

ANDREWS: Chris… maybe I’m way off, but I have Paul first, Newt second and Mitt third… That said, keep a corner in your eye open for Santorum. He is really doing the Iowa caucuses the way they should be done.

FOWLER: Kirk, you told me you’ve been tossing and turning on this one.

HERBSTREIT: Sure have Chris. Since, I’m calling the Caucus tonight with Musburger, I shouldn’t make predictions, but I’ll make an exception. Romney first, Paul second and Santorum in third. When I say watch out for Santorum, I mean watch out for Santorum. If Newt doesn’t stop the bleeding fast, I believe Santorum can sneak into the 3rd spot. Visiting all 99 counties will build you an incredible organization. Santorum did it the right way and I think he’ll be rewarded. I think Newt will slip to #4. I believe Perry and Bachmann will drop out before NH.

FOWLER: So Kirk, you have bought into Santormentum.

HERBSTREIT: I do, Chris. Something is happening.

FOWLER: Before we finish up, Kirk, you had more to add.

HERBSTREIT: Yes. Here’s three headlines you will see Wednesday morning “Perry forgets the 3rd reason he lost in concession speech. Oops.”

FOWLER: Ouch. The second?

HERBSTREIT: “Man smoking outside of caucus mistaken for Mark Block, turns out to be Grant Young.”

FOWLER: A little shout out to the editor. Nice work.

HERBSTREIT: Absolutely! Now, how much I think this Santormentum is real… the third headline on Wednesday morning will be “Santorum after surprise top 3 finish: Google me now, bitches!”

FOWLER: Can he say that on air? I guess we can expect an apology from Kirk with a gun pointed to his head.


FOWLER: Alright… now, time for Lee to finish up with a tradition like no other. What do you have for a prediction there coach?

CORSO: This is the most difficult race to pick here on gameday, probably ever. And I can tell you one thing now that is for certain. I look forward to supporting whom ever the nominee is with great enthusiasm because four more years of Obama we cannot have.


CORSO: Kirk! I have contrarian thinking on the good Doctors chances. High turnout is not what Paul wants but I think that's what he gets. Paul is polling slightly higher than he will finish but will come in very close third. He has very dedicated supporters and it's certainly not inconceivable that he could win. So I have Ron Paul in third place.

HERBSTREIT: C’mon Coach, third? You have no faith in the sweater vest?

CORSO: Two guys who could surprise. And might. I'm telling you this thing is up for grabs and while Perry has been steadily climbing back, Santorum is roaring ahead. Either one of these guys could break into the top three but no way both can. But in second, Romney could easily win with 25 percent because of the fractured vote. And NOT SO FAST MY FRIENDS! With a very high turnout and something special happening between now and January 3, and by the narrowest of margins…. I didn't even need to be enlarged, fits right on there at actual size.

(CORSO slaps desk and puts on head)


HERBSTREIT: You know Chris, he’s right. That thing is actual size.

BEANO: Wade Phillips is a fine coordinator. But no head coach.

ANDREWS: That thing is ginormous.
FOWLER: There you have it friends. Our panel has made its picks. Now it’s up to you. See you Tuesday Night!

ANDREWS: Good Lord that thing is huge.

BEANO: That’s what she said.