Donald Trump’s still on top, but the Iowa Republican field is highly unpredictable with the caucus now almost a hundred days away.
That’s the assessment of Craig Robinson, editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, an influential Republican web site that covers the state.
He breaks the race into three brackets: Religious conservatives, establishment types and outsiders.
The religious group includes Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Robinson sees to two types of religious conservative voters: Socially conservative activists included to go with Cruz and Jindal, and those “not looking for someone to take a flame-thrower to Washington like Cruz and Jindal. “
They tend to be older and more inclined to back Huckabee and Santorum.
The conclusion: “Cruz has the potential. Huckabee has the personal connections. Santorum has a unique message and firm grasp on the issues. Jindal is either a wild card or the spoiler.”
The establishment bracket is “a mess,” Robinson found, with no one getting into double digits. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was the leader for awhile, but he faded and dropped out.
“Bush (former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) has the best ground game in Iowa of this lot,” he said. “(Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida) has tons of potential. Fiorina is the wild card and likely spoiler.” Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “just make it harder for any establishment candidate to actually win Iowa.”
Then come the outsiders. “Trump might have spent most of his campaign money on flying around in his 757 and on campaign swag, but it would be a mistake to overlook the fact that he has the largest campaign staff in Iowa, and they guy leading his effort here, Chuck Laudner, knows a thing or two about how to organize for a caucus,” Robinson said.
His assessment of the outsiders: “Trump is unavoidable and better organized than you think. (Retired neurosurgeon Ben) Carson may have reached his ceiling. (Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) is only interesting if he is a candidate on caucus day, which is hard for me to see.”
Robinson’s overall ranking as things stand today: