I've been to several campaign events in Iowa in recent weeks, and what's surprised me is how many people bring up someone who's not even in the race: Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
At almost every appearance by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty or Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, a voter I've met has said something like, "I'm waiting to see what Rick Perry will do." A guy who sells campaign buttons for all the candidates said his business will improve if Perry runs.
I take all this to mean two things. One is that many Iowans aren't satisfied with the current field of candidates. Another is that Perry, despite some very real flaws, has the stature and resources to turn the race upside down. So Saturday's straw poll in Ames may be even less meaningful than usual as an indicator of what will happen in the caucuses next year.
Perry is giving a speech in Iowa Sunday. That suggests he will soon be joining the race -- and that some other candidates will soon be leaving.