WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 – This week’s Washington Week Ahead could easily be called the Iowa week and beyond. Most of the national news media, political pundits, and lawmakers who are stumping for their favorite candidates are in the Hawkeye state for the Iowa caucuses. The House is out of session until Jan. 17 and the Senate is gone until Jan. 23.

Republican presidential candidates are making last minute pushes to attract an estimated 40 percent of the caucus goers who claimed to be undecided according to the latest Des Moines Register poll. Most polls indicate that it could be a photo finish between the three top candidates.

On Saturday, the Des Moines Register reported that Mitt Romney has secured the top spot in Iowa with 24 percent of the vote, but Ron Paul was a close second at 22 percent and Rick Santorum rapidly gaining momentum with 15 percent. Newt Gingrich has dropped to 12 percent, Rick Perry to 11 percent and Michele Bachmann to 7 percent.


A new Public Policy Polling Survey, conducted Saturday and Sunday in Iowa, shows a virtual three-way dead heat. Ron Paul has a nominal lead with 20 percent of the vote in the poll, followed by Mitt Romney at 19 percent and Rick Santorum at 18 percent.


Finishing in the top three should provide strong momentum for those candidates headed to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 10. But some political pundits predict that a strong fourth place finish might boost prospects for Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry---GOP candidates who have witnessed their own rapid rise climb in the Iowa polls before dropping back down.

After vacationing with his family in Hawaii, President Barack Obama returns to Washington on Tuesday but he’ll also be in Iowa—at least with a virtual presence. Obama plans to make sure that Iowans who gave him a first-in the-nation caucus victory four years ago don’t forget the importance of staying the course. He’ll address Democratic caucus goers via remote video and phone at 8:15 pm EDT.

Since the Obama campaign launched in April, Iowa staff and volunteers have opened 8 campaign offices: Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport, Iowa City, Dubuque and Council Bluffs. The front page of today’s electronic version of the Des Moines Register is wrapped with advertisements on the top and both sides, asking readers to join Barack Obama’s campaign and criticizing GOP candidates.

Later this week:

President Obama hits the campaign trail again, starting with a trip to Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland on Wednesday to speak about the economy.

On Friday: The 2012 Legislative Agricultural Chairs Summit starts at the Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, VA. For more information: http://www.agandruralleaders.org/LAC/2012/2012_LAC.shtml





For more perspective on the Iowa caucuses, go to http://www.agri-pulse.com/