Iowa voters, as I have written before, love to produce some surprises during their caucuses. Monday's caucuses are pretty complicated and can, at least on the Democratic side, involve some horse trading and not a little bit of shaming in the process. I am not going to predict but here is what I think could happen:

  • Marco Rubio is the big story - not that wins but he comes in with a very respectable showing and becomes the candidate who receives the "3 Ms" out of Iowa: media, money, and momentum. Iowans like to meet the candidates multiple times and Rubio has decided to focus on a media strategy rather than long arduous days of personal campaigning, but he is gaining in the polls and emerging as the more palatable non-outsider candidate. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz will get their share of the vote - around 50%-55% combined - but remember that the GOP caucuses are as much for Republican committee members, activists and their families, as they are about protests and statements. So add a few votes for Ben Carson, but I think that Rubio will get a large share of late deciders and party types. The big losers, if this happens, will be the guys who were counting on New Hampshire to break open the campaign - Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Jeb Bush.
  • Donald Trump will do well - but I don't think he will be so dominant that he isn't damaged by having set a bar for himself that is too high for even him. When the votes are counted, he will more than likely be in the first or second position, but the big story is how the establishment finally embraced a candidate to carry the ball into New Hampshire.
  • Ted Cruz will lose - he has a solid base among evangelical voters and a very good organization, but he has been withered by attacks from both Trump and Rubio. While fellow social conservatives Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and 2012, they had other factors going for them - namely, they were liked and respected by their colleagues and they had actually accomplished some things in public office.
  • Hillary Clinton will emerge damaged - she will not come in third place as she did in 2008, but serious questions will be raised about here electability. Young people will turn out and will propel Bernie Sanders into at least a photo finish with Clinton. Whether she wins or not will matter less than the fact that she has a problem with younger voters and that party leaders will once again wonder if she can win in November.
  • Martin O'Malley will finally matter - he could either do better than expected thus leading to a vote which, when combined with Sanders', will deny Clinton a strong finish she needs. Or, O'Malley's voters will move over to Sander's side (literally) and allow Sanders to win a share of delegates to the next round.

I, of course, may be wrong about all of this. But in the immortal words of Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, "If you don't believe me just watch".