WASHINGTON — Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are best positioned to win the most delegates in Iowa as the Republican primary process moves forward, making Mitt Romney the odd man out, state insiders told The Huffington Post.
Santorum and Romney finished first and second on Jan. 3, with Paul finishing about 3,000 votes behind the 29,000 votes Santorum and Romney both got.
Rep. Paul (R-Texas) is currently estimated by The Associated Press to have zero delegates in Iowa. The AP numbers give former Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.) 13 delegates and former Massachusetts Gov. Romney 12. But Iowa Republican operatives scoffed at the AP figure.
Steve Scheffler, one of the state's three Republican National Committee members, told The Huffington Post that the AP was wrong in their assessment, saying that the state's delegates do not revolve around the straw poll.
Santorum, banking on the fact that delegates are not "bound" by rule or law in Iowa to vote for any presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention —which is similar to other caucus states — has predicted he'll win the "overwhelming majority" of Iowa's 28 delegates.
But as he is likely to find out in many caucus states, Santorum faces a roadblock: Paul's passionate and organized supporters, working to position themselves for spots as delegates at the national convention in Tampa, Fla., this August.
The common theme among Iowa Republicans who spoke with HuffPost is that Paul's supporters have been the only ones who are noticeably aggressive and active so far in angling for delegate spots at the two remaining conventions in the state, all with an eye toward landing as many of the 28 delegate spots for Tampa as possible.
But Santorum is very popular among a great number of Iowa's grassroots conservative base, and so he too is expected to get around half of the delegates. That leaves Romney as potentially the odd man out, getting just a handful of delegates. Such a scenario would only be possible if Romney and Santorum were still locked in a close fight.
— Huffington Post, TAAN