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A Huckabee Win In Iowa: Yawn Or Yawp?

Ed Kilgore puts his finger on an interesting phenomenon that he deems the Iowa "Pre-Bounce":

Huckabee has run no broadcast ads outside Iowa, and precious few even there. He's barely campaigned outside Iowa. So aside from his televised debate appearances, and whatever random direct mail a GOP voter may have received, his national support levels pretty much have to be based on news coverage of his campaign in Iowa.

There's a quadrennial debate in political circles about the size and nature of the "Iowa Bounce," the later benefit a candidate receives for winning or exceeding expectations in Iowa. But what we seem to be witnessing here is an Iowa "Pre-Bounce," based on perceptions that a candidate's doing well in Iowa. Stands to reason that the actual, post-Caucus "Bounce" should be even bigger, eh?

And that, my friends, should be as disturbing to the campaign of Rudy "I Can Ignore Iowa" Giuliani as Huckabee's sudden second-place national standing.

But, just to play devil's advocate (and throw around a few more buzzwords), could a huge Iowa "Pre-Bounce" for Huckabee actually diminish his post-Caucus "Bounce," since he could become a victim of the "Expectations Game"? I mean, say Huckabee beats Romney--who was trailing Huckabee by 22 points in Iowa in that Newsweek poll from last week--by just a few percentage points. Can Romney then claim to be the Comeback Kid? Probably not, but I wouldn't put it past him to try. And is Huckabee peaking too early and thus raising the bar on the margin of victory he actually needs to achieve in Iowa in order to get a significant Bounce? Probably not, but I'd imagine that's an argument the other campaigns are going to be putting out there.

--Jason Zengerle