According to a poll of likely Iowa caucus goers by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register Herman Cain leads with 23 percent, effectively tied with Mitt Romney who is at 22 percent. Ron Paul, the only other candidate in double digits, is in third place with 12 percent. Michele Bachmann, who won an earlier Iowa straw poll, has seen her support collapse to only 8 percent.

While this latest poll finds Cain leading in the first state to vote this primary season, it surveyed individuals last week before Politico reported allegations of Cain engaging in inappropriate behavior while the head of the National Restaurant Association. Depending on how the story develops it could potentially do serious damage to Cain’s candidacy.

This poll and the story about Cain puts the Romney campaign in the position of having to make one of the potentially most important tactical decisions of the race. The Iowa caucus tends to be dominated by very conservative Christians; it’s not demographically favorable for Romney.  As a result the Romney campaign so far has chosen not to invest heavily in the state. But there now appears to be an opening for Romney to win Iowa if he increases his campaign efforts in the state.

If Romney were to win Iowa, followed by a big win in New Hampshire, he could wrap up the nomination earlier, allowing him to save his money for the general election. The Romney campaign needs to decide if they are going to try to go for the early kill with Iowa or stick to their original plan. Going big in Iowa has a large potential upside for Romney, but it risks having a second place finish in the caucuses like the one that presaged his 2008 loss in New Hamshire.

Mitt Romney: Why not me? (photo: World Affairs Council of Philadelphia)

According to a poll of likely Iowa caucus goers by Selzer & Co. for the Des Moines Register Herman Cain leads with 23 percent, effectively tied with Mitt Romney who is at 22 percent. Ron Paul, the only other candidate in double digits, is in third place with 12 percent. Michele Bachmann, who won an earlier Iowa straw poll, has seen her support collapse to only 8 percent.

While this latest poll finds Cain leading in the first state to vote this primary season, it surveyed individuals last week before Politico reported allegations of Cain engaging in inappropriate behavior while the head of the National Restaurant Association. Depending on how the story develops it could potentially do serious damage to Cain’s candidacy.

This poll and the story about Cain puts the Romney campaign in the position of having to make one of the potentially most important tactical decisions of the race. The Iowa caucus tends to be dominated by very conservative Christians; it’s not demographically favorable for Romney.  As a result the Romney campaign so far has chosen not to invest heavily in the state. But there now appears to be an opening for Romney to win Iowa if he increases his campaign efforts in the state.

If Romney were to win Iowa, followed by a big win in New Hampshire, he could wrap up the nomination earlier, allowing him to save his money for the general election. The Romney campaign needs to decide if they are going to try to go for the early kill with Iowa or stick to their original plan. Going big in Iowa has a large potential upside for Romney, but it risks having a second place finish in the caucuses like the one that presaged his 2008 loss in New Hamshire.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com

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