BOSTON (CBS) – Who is going to win tomorrow night’s Republican caucuses in Iowa, the first actual votes of this already endless campaign?

Search me.

Since I arrived in Des Moines yesterday afternoon I’ve been asking everyone I meet who they’re for, and getting mostly shrugs and eye-rolling.

Polls have proven useless in the past out here because of the uncertainty over who will actually show up at the local function hall on a frigid work-night to participate.

WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Keller Is At Large

And they’re especially problematic this year because many Iowa Republicans find themselves torn between their ideological beliefs and their sense of pragmatic political reality.

Just check out the poll in the Des Moines Register over the weekend, which was, on the surface, very good news for Mitt Romney, who finished in a virtual tie for first with Ron Paul.

By large margins, likely voters see Romney as the most electable candidate in November, and nearly 80 percent of them say they’d be reasonably happy if he winds up as the nominee, more so than with any other candidate.

This reflects a sensible perception that, by comparison with the competition, Romney seems qualified, experienced, and reasonable.

It may even be a sign that some voters, at least, see the relentless criticism of his notorious flip-flopping as overdone, that it’s not such a badge of dishonor to have an open mind and be responsive to public opinion.

But the Register poll also suggests that Romney may not win the caucuses, or even finish second.

His people were telling me yesterday they’d be happy with third.

Ron Paul is so confident of the intensity of his support here that he chose to hang out at home in Texas over the weekend while all the other candidates were shivering here.

And a higher percentage of Rick Santorum’s supporters say they will absolutely show up tomorrow night than for any of the others.

Even though Iowa Republicans tell the pollsters the economy is the number one issue, the truth is the economy isn’t doing that badly here, and that leaves room for issues of faith and character, ideology and personality to have an impact.

And the one thing we do know about Iowa caucus voters is they’ve been searching all year for someone other than Mitt Romney to back, from Bachmann to Perry to Cain to Gingrich and now, Santorum, a candidate so clueless, he blamed “liberalism” for the Boston archidocese sex-abuse scandal, as if Cardinal Law wasn’t the most conservative Republican in town.

How could someone that dense win this thing?

Maybe because one of the leading radio talk-show hosts in Des Moines says his fellow Iowans think Romney is “a lying sack of shinola.”

Maybe I’ll have a better handle on what’s going on out here for you by this time tomorrow.

Then again, I can’t get a handle on something the voters themselves don’t have a handle on.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

Comments (6)
  1. Stephen Stein says:

    Happy New Year, Jon and the commenters community!

    I am very curious to know exactly what Iowa caucuses are like and how they work, and I’m hoping to get a report about that process (along with the results, which will be amply covered I’m sure).

    Who is eligible to caucus? Only residents of the particular precinct? Limited to registered voters? Limited to registered Republicans?

    Do they let journalists in to observe?

  2. Stephen Stein says:

    I hope Jon is able to actually attend one of the caucuses there (if he is allowed). The whole process is a bit mysterious to outsiders – all we get are the results – and I’m curious how the process looks from the inside.

  3. RJ O'Guillory says:

    …nice try Mr. Keller,…but your disinformation campaign is not having the same effect it would have had previously,…you know for a fact that Mr. Paul has a great chance of winning in Iowa,…you know his poll numbers are “through the roof” when the poll is completed by a non-biased entity, not a corporate prostitute such as yourself,…

    Mr. Paul may “lose” Iowa in the biased, untruthful cheating, corrupt environment we now are aware we live in,…but if given the equal, fair, truthful chance to compete, Mr. Paul roasts all other competition…

    RJ O’Guillory
    Webster Groves-the Life of an Insane Family

    1. BostonIrish says:

      RJ, I think it’s poor form to be advertising your book while posting. Ego. You’re an author, I get it. It doesn’t allow you any more than anybody else who posts here. Really poor form.

  4. mike says:

    The biggest downfall of Mitt Romney is not being able to figure the type of Supreme Court Judge he’d pick. Would we get a Justice Roberts type or a Justice Souter type? There is too much at risk for a liberal slant to he Supreme Court.

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