As the Iowa caucuses approach two days from now, we have some final thoughts. Many commentators and journalists have all but given the Iowa caucus to Mitt Romney. But we think he would be the de facto loser in Iowa for these reasons:
(1) If Romney wins the vote, he officially becomes the front-runner. As the Republican Party scrutinizes him, most Republicans will remember that they do not like him and try to coalesce around a conservative candidate. His momentum would be broken in South Carolina.
(2) If Romney gets anything less than first place, he looks like a complete loser. This is because his campaign has raised expectations of a victory to the maximum point, and every article in every major newspaper has focused on the prospect of a Romney victory.
(3) The only thing the polls really show is that Romney faces a very tough threat from Ron Paul, Rick Santorum is surging and could split or pick up the social conservative vote, and that Gingrich and Romney are very much close in the national poll (24-26% respectively, up from 23-27% in a poll with a 4% margin of error - very much anybody's game).
(4) Newt Gingrich wouldn't have to do very much to be one of the "winners" in Iowa. In politics, lowering expectations can create the impression of a come-from-behind victory and give you momentum. Because the general trend in the news media has been to trash Gingrich, expectations are low. If Gingrich can achieve second, or even third place he can very much stay in the running nationally as a viable alternative to Mitt Romney -- and this will be a prominent story in the newspapers.