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Hotline Sort: Countdown To Caucuses

4) Make sure to check out Iowa political guru David Yepsen's five myths of the Iowa caucuses, where he blasts the notions that retail politics rules in the state, right-wingers predominate at the caucuses and that weather influences the outcome. 3) Call it a case of fortuitous timing. Family Leader CEO and prominent Iowa social conservative Bob Vander Plaats is taking credit for Rick Santorum's surge in the polls. The bigger test of Vander Plaats' influence is whether his support will convince evangelical supporters of Michele Bachmann (who's fading in the polls) and Rick Perry (whose numbers have been relatively stagnant) to coalesce and consolidate their backing around Santorum. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal reports that evangelical pastors have been trying to broker a deal that would persuade one or more of the socially conservative candidates to drop out. That could allow Santorum to potentially win the caucus outright. But as long as the evangelical vote is split at least three ways, Santorum still has a fairly low ceiling of support. 2) Yes, there's a new radio ad up in Iowa urging caucus attendees to "vote rogue" and caucus for Palin. Meanwhile, the only female presidential candidate, Bachmann, has amped up the comparisons to her and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. 1) There's no doubt now that Romney is playing for keeps in Iowa, and all the most recent polls from the state show him with the lead, albeit a narrow one. The latest: an NBC/Marist poll showing Romney leading Paul, 23 to 21 percent with Santorum moving into third place, with 15 percent Romney's campaign is spending nearly all of its remaining time in the Hawkeye State, save for a quick trip to New Hampshire in late Friday and Saturday. And most notably, he's set to remain in Iowa after the caucus results come in Tuesday night - a sign he's hoping to declare victory and get key momentum before heading back to the Granite State. Another sign: He's already training his focus on Obama, comparing the president to Marie Antoinette. "When the president's characterization of our economy was, 'It could be worse,' it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: 'Let them eat cake,'" Romney told the Huffington Post Thursday.

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