Candidates Play the Expectations Game

The opening of the caucuses in Iowa is just hours away, and while plenty of analysts and media types have gamed out predictions, some prognoses have come from the candidates themselves.

Here's a short sample of some of the candidates' crystal balls:

Ron Paul's campaign says its chances at winning first place in Iowa are a coin toss. Jesse Benton, Paul's campaign chairman, said in a TV interview on Monday that Paul's odds at first are "50-50."

"All depends on whether our people turn out," he said. "We think our main competition is Mitt Romney. We see this as a two-man race, both in Iowa, in New Hampshire and nationally, quite frankly."

Two weeks ago, Newt Gingrich predicted that he'd finish in the top three or four. On Monday, he told reporters, "I don't think I'm going to win."

But Gingrich also told ABC News that even if Mitt Romney wins Iowa and New Hampshire, he won't secure the nomination.

"Romney is, in the end, in a culturally hopeless position," Gingrich said. "He's a Massachusetts moderate in a conservative party."

A few days ago, Romney stopped short of predicting a win but said, " I'm predicting a good start."

"Hey, second, third, fourth, just a lot of support," he said. "I'm fine.

On Monday, Romney said at a rally that "we're gonna win this thing," though his campaign later insisted that the candidate was talking about the nomination, not the Iowa caucus.

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