Many Iowa Republicans undecided on eve of caucuses




Posted on January 3, 2012 at 12:25 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 3 at 12:39 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa — The road to the White House starts in the Hawkeye State, and the latest polls put Gov. Rick Perry in fifth place behind Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.

Perry's last stand Monday night was in the Iowa city that bears his name. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal introduced Perry to the crowd.

Perry asserted that he is the only social conservative with staying power, taking shots at Santorum.

The Texas governor will wrap-up his two-week bus tour with several stops in Des Moines on Tuesday, trying to convince undecided voters that he is the best Republican choice to defeat President Obama.

Mitt Romney forecast Monday night that he will win the Iowa caucuses. But the latest polls show Romney is in a dead heat with Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is gaining momentum.

With Santorum now showing he has a chance to win, some social conservatives who had been backing Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry will likely change their vote to Santorum.

For months, Iowans have been bombarded with attack ads and campaign promises. So are any of these messages resonating with Iowa voters... or are they simply overwhelmed?

On a cold winter night at a skating rink in downtown Des Moines just 24 hours before the caucuses, some 40 percent of those who will participate remain undecided.

"That's what your hearing now... people just don't know what to do," said Kate Coenam.

Ryan Junge said he's simply overwhelmed with the number of candidates. "Too many... there's a lot of them," he said. "You know, they're all kind of saying the same thing, in a way, so it's kind of repetitive."

These frigid Iowans will soon have to make a choice.

"You just really have to pay attention and listen to the debates," Coenam said.

And who will Junge be voting for? "I'm not really sure," he said, adding that he'd make up his mind "when it's time."

That time is Tuesday evening; 1,174 caucuses will begin at 7 P.M.

Iowa is one of the last states where the caucus still lives. Each voting precinct chooses a place to gather, and the debate begins.

Because of the time involved, turnout for caucuses is much lower than a traditional primary vote.

Iowa can often help narrow the field. A poor showing could result in one or more contenders dropping out after Tuesday.

Democrats will also be caucusing in Iowa as well as a way to organize for the general election. President Obama and his family left Hawaii late today after a 10-day vacation. The President plans to address supporters in Iowa on Tuesday night.