Mitt Romney announced he will not participate in the mid-August Iowa Ames Straw Poll. It will be recalled that in the last campaign Romney spent a massive amount and won the Ames poll but still did not win the later Iowa caucus with Huckabee, an evangelical Christian, being the surprise winner in this strongly evangelical state.
On a purely political basis his not participating need not necessarily affect his overall chances of winning the nomination-McCain came in third in Iowa but went on to win eventually. But there is danger for Romney if e.g. Pawlenty does extremely well in the Ames poll which would give him substantial impetus towards winning the caucus. That could be blunted if, as expected Romney did very well in New Hampshire, which is up next after Iowa and, presuming they are the two main contenders, all the marbles would be in play in South Carolina where, being a Tea Party, evangelical state, Pawlenty might have the advantage.
Political analysts have framed the Iowa situation as Romney's team seeing it as a "values state" whereas New Hampshire is seen as an "economic issues state." Thus, in that scenario Romney is better of playing to his perceived strengths in economic matters with the realization that those strengths, and his undoubted financial resources may not matter in Iowa and it is best to avoid a loss there whilst putting every effort into New Hampshire for a crushing win.
However, this may be a, perhaps fatal, misreading of the countries mood.
Democratic Party pollster Pat Cadell on Hannity in discussing Weiner and the general malaise in the America
seemed strongly emotional and perturbed about the current economic and moral environment. " The problem here (congress) is people say anything goes. Last week the country woke up and discovered,"oh my God it's not going to get better."
"We had a major moment in this country.We are headed down a road, where we don't know. These guys are about themselves, not the country and I'm so tired of it."
Certainly there is a need for an economic prescription, but any renewal of America must be two pronged.
One prong is to renew America's trust in financial institution's and government. the other is to restore the economy with a renewal of the spirit of productive entrepreneurship.
Sarah Palin represents the attitude that both prongs need to be implemented-the Reagan prescription and if she chooses to run could well be formidable in Iowa and South Carolina. Romney, by bypassing the "values state with perhaps the moral emphasis during a campaign there may be giving up the opportunity to put his stamp on both aspects of the truly conservative campaign that would ensure the entire base turns out for the general election.
This very act of by passing Iowa may in itself be the first test of the moral character of Romney if it is perceived that purely political expediency is more important to him than the moral/economic balance.
The Iowa GOP Chairman has expressed his disappointment at Romney not participating in the Ames poll.
An Influential member of Tea Party has made it clear that if Romney wins the nomination their supporters may not turn out in 2012 which might well doom his campaign.He has the opportunity to turn that attitude around by emphasising the two prongs needed to get the base inspired-as Palin could. By bypassing Ames he has perhaps doomed not only his nomination, but if he received that then his chances for the Presidency.