(CNN) – If the weather is good on January 3, Mitt Romney will win the Iowa caucuses; if the weather is bad, a weaker turnout will result in a victorious Ron Paul, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee predicted Sunday.
Huckabee, who won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, said the devotion disparity between supporters of the two contenders could greatly impact the outcome in the early voting state.
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“Ron Paul has an exceptional organization there and it very well could be that he could end up winning because of the extraordinary devotion of his followers," the former Arkansas governor said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He's got people that would walk over broken glass for him, and they break the glass to be able to say they did it.”
“That’s where Mitt is at a disadvantage, he doesn’t have the devotion,” Huckbee added.
He also said Rick Santorum is underestimated and suggested the former Pennsylvania senator might place in the top three or four.
Santorum has made social issues the pillars of his White House bid in the Hawkeye State, much like Huckabee, a former minister, did in 2008. Despite success among the state’s religious voting bloc in the last presidential election, Huckabee’s Iowa win failed to catapult him to the GOP nomination, which was ultimately captured by Arizona Sen. John McCain.
The latest Iowa poll from the American Research Group released Friday showed Paul, Romney and Newt Gingrich in a statistical tie - with 21%, 20% and 19% support respectively. All the remaining candidates received less than 10% each.
Huckabee said negative ads have hurt former House Speaker Gingrich, who surged to the top of national and state-wide polls a few weeks ago but has now seen his support start to recede. To Huckabee, the negative advertisements sow doubt in the minds of voters, particularly those who have yet to make a final decision.
“If you’re soft on a candidate and every day you get pounded with about 20 messages … it’s easier to switch at that point,” Huckabee said. “That’s what’s happening to Newt.”
But Huckabee cautioned against using state-wide polling as the key predictor for the caucuses. In the end, it is the committed and devoted supporters that make the difference in Iowa’s system, he said.
“Polls, you pick up the phone and you say ‘ya, I kinda like so and so,’” Huckabee said. “Caucus, you’ve got to drive somewhere and stand up and be counted for that candidate. It’s a very different kind of atmosphere.”
NOTE: While it's too early to forecast precisely what the weather will be in Iowa on January 3, long-range climatological models indicate a warmer and drier January across the Midwest, according to CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris. There is a strong La Nina in the eastern Pacific off the coast of South America, which typically causes winter storms to move across Canada instead of the lower 48 and keeps Arctic air bottle up North of the U.S.-Canadian border.
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