An excellent article from The New Republic on Iowa, social conservative influence (or not) and the current crop of Republican presidential candidates:
…Iowa social conservatives seemed to hurt themselves through their inability to unite behind and stick with a single candidate. Maybe if they’d accepted Tim Pawlenty’s arduous courtship earlier this year, he would have emerged as the “viable conservative alternative” to Mitt Romney. Perhaps if they’d united behind Michele Bachmann the day after her victory in the Iowa Straw Poll, her campaign would have shown more staying power. But instead they hopped over to Rick Perry, only to abandon ship for Herman Cain, who with no end in sight for his sexual harassment/sexual assault scandal is hardly looking like a safe bet for the godly.
This demolition derby of candidates acceptable to people like Vander Plaats has left Iowa’s social conservatives in a highly vulnerable position now. If Mitt Romney manages to win the caucuses with the kind of half-hearted effort he has put into the state so far—all the while ignoring would-be kingmakers—the whole supposition that future candidates must spend every other day in the Hawkeye State for months and years before votes are cast will be significantly undermined.
I love the phrase “demolition derby of candidates.”