January 3, 2012
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Rick Perry has won every election he's entered during his 27-year political career, but all signs point toward that streak ending Tuesday night in Iowa's Republican presidential caucuses.
If recent polls are accurate, Perry's best possible outcome is a third-place finish Tuesday behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, who are in a tight battle for the top spot. Thanks to lowered expectations caused by his own stumbles and others' surges, Perry's team would probably celebrate third place as a comeback, pointing to the old adage that there are three tickets out of Iowa.
Fourth place or worse would be a setback, even though Perry says he will keep marching on. He probably has the money to wage at least something of a fight in another state.
But even if Perry takes third place in Iowa, his path to the nomination would be challenging. A better-than-expected finish in Iowa, in other words, might only delay Perry's ultimate defeat. . .
"The nomination is beyond Perry's reach," said Cal Jillson
, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.
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