With the Iowa caucuses taking place on Jan. 3, 2012, and the New Hampshire primary being held a week later on Jan. 10, 2012, the Republican presidential candidates can be excused for not focusing on another contest that helped Barack Obama win the presidency of the United States in 2008.

No, I’m not talking about the “money primary,” which is also known as the “invisible primary.”  That’s the early jockeying for contributors that winnows the presidential field long before any caucuses or primaries are held.  That was held on Sept. 30, 2011, at the close of the most recent fund-raising period, when Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, had raised more than $32.6 million; Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, had raised $17.2 million; Ron Paul, the U.S. Representative from Texas’s 14th Congressional District, had raised $12.8 million; and Michele Bachmann, the U.S. Representative from Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, had raised $7.5 million.  By comparison, President Obama had raised $99.6 million, more than all of the Republican candidates combined.

The contest I’m talking about is the “YouTube Community caucus,” which I’ve called the “invisible caucus” in my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day.  That’s the early jockeying for YouTubers who rate political videos, share political videos with their friends, and become subscribers to a candidate’s YouTube channel as well as the content curators who embed political videos on blogs and sites across the web, often adding their own commentary and perspective.  These opinion leaders tell others about their favorite campaign videos and impact’s a candidate’s chances of winning what Jose Antonio Vargas of The Washington Post and Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times have both called “The YouTube Presidency.”

And when I checked on Thursday, ronpaul’s Channel on YouTube had 6,885,180 total upload views and 37,389 subscribers; ngingrich’s Channel had 6,250,205 total upload views and 7,476 subscribers; RPerry2012’s Channel had 12,772,048 total upload views and 3,178 subscribers; mittromney’s Channel on YouTube had 3,020,361 total upload views and 2,934 subscribers; teambachmann’s Channel had 1,317,358 video views and 1,628 subscribers; govgaryjohnson’s Channel had 214,919 total upload views and 1,622 subscribers; Jon2012HQ’s Channel had 566,119 total upload views and 723 subscribers; RickSantorum’s Channel had 719,070 total upload views and 696 subscribers; and buddyroemer’s Channel had 108,345 total upload views and 374 subscribers.

What does this mean?  Well, Ron Paul has more than three times more subscribers to his YouTube Channel than all of the other Republican candidates combined.  And both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have more subscribers than Mitt Romney does, despite creating his YouTube Channel in 2007 for his first presidential campaign.

So, don’t be surprised if Paul does “better than expected” in the Iowa caucus and Romney doesn’t.  Why?  Because Paul’s supporters may turn out more friends to attend a local caucus than Romney’s supporters do.

And with the latest projections by the FiveThirtyEight Blog showing Romney projected to get 22.7% of the vote in Iowa and Paul projected to get 21.5%, this means Paul has a good shot at pulling off an “upset” victory.

Could anything unexpected upset this expected upset?  Well, the Republican Party presidential campaign in 2011 has been the political equivalent of a Whac-A-Mole game.  So, yes, anything can – and probably will – happen between now and 2012 Republican National Convention, which will be held in Tampa, Florida, Aug. 27-30, 2012.

For example, what if a new candidate enters the race?  Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times has just posted a story entitled, “New Ad Urges Iowans to Caucus for Palin.”

And Joseph P. Kahn of The Boston Globe just did an interview entitled, “Jimmy Tingle looks back on 2011, ahead to 2012.”

Who is Jimmy Tingle?  He’s a comedian-actor-filmmaker from Cambridge, Massachusetts, who is the star of a show entitled, ”Jimmy Tingle for President: The Funniest Campaign in History.”

Hey, other content curators who embed political videos on blogs and sites across the web often add their own commentary and perspective.  Why not me?