I spent most of today at the Iowa state fairgrounds watching the Iowa Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity event. Approximately 2,000 Republicans attended.
Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the two leaders in Iowa, skipped the event. John Kasich was the only other member of the top 10 who did not show up. From the bottom tier, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Santorum all spoke.
I will discuss the speeches and audience reaction later. For now, I want to note how comparatively few Iowa Republicans seem to have decided on a candidate. Based on talking to folks and to people working for various campaigns, I would estimate that two-thirds are undecided. Maybe more.
This, I assume, is why when campaign staffers buttonholed me, the question was always is XXX among your top choices, not is he/she your top choice. (A Rubio guy, after ascertaining that the Florida Senator is in my top five, asked if he’s in my top two. I said I’m not sure. That’s as far as anyone pushed it.)
Even some attendees whom I put down as decided aren’t totally locked in. A rather determined looking Cruz supporter admitted that he is still interested in Jindal, Santorum, Paul, and (most significantly) Rubio.
A couple that’s supporting Bush confided that they were wavering because they are no longer sure how much he wants to be president. (They were fortified by his performance today.)
You can make the case that it’s still early in Iowa or you can say it’s getting late. Based on what I have seen during my two days here, I’m saying it still is early.