Silver just posted an entry in support of the Romney campaign’s decision to compete in Iowa. I respectfully disagree.
I recommend re-reading Silver’s excellent August piece on Iowa in which he examines the ideology of the Republican primary electorate in various states. Iowa tops the list in terms of conservatism, with self-identified conservatives clocking in at a time-travel-enabling 88%. I don’t think that 88% is going to be too fond of Romney, who has run as the moderate candidate this cycle.
Thus, I don’t think it’s likely that Romney will win Iowa. Coming in a strong second (much more likely) won’t help him much, considering that he’s been a perennial “front-runner” for the past year. And here’s where I completely agree with Silver: “The big problem with losing Iowa is that if you don’t win it, someone else will.”
Romney’s biggest advantage is his war chest. He shouldn’t want a quick, three-primaries-and-done campaign. Let this campaign go to Super Tuesday (March 6), when he can dominate the airwaves and crush his opponent(s).
My bet is that Romney does not win Iowa and wishes he had the extra money he’s spending there to devote to South Carolina, Florida, and other races down the line. Given the volatility of the race, I’m not certain of any of the above, but it’s my reading at the moment.