Romney’s Strategery: Ignoring Iowa?

Via the NYTState of Uncertainty for Romney Camp as It Looks to Iowa

At this point four years ago, Mitt Romney’s television commercials had been running here for 13 weeks. His campaign headquarters, bustling with activity, provided one of the best jobs around for Republican operatives. He fought hard to win the Iowa Straw Poll, an early test of organizing, and he did.

This year, there are no commercials, no bulging payroll and no headquarters at all. And he has yet to signal whether he will treat Iowa with deference (as he did in 2008) or indifference (as some advisers have urged him to do).

Romney may have decided to not give a lot of effort in Iowa, which rejected him last time in lieu of Huckabee, and try and score a big New Hampshire victory.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Chris A says:

    Extremely risky. He has to be close enough in Iowa to get a big win in NH. If he’s in 2nd or 3rd in Iowa despite not campaigning, then he’s got a good shot of Winning in NH. If he’s in 4th, 5th or worse, then he’s probably not going to win in NH. Yes, they are different states with different types of Republicans but Winners coming out of Iowa usually have a bit of a glow around them and a bit of momentum.

  2. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    True, this means not only that he has to win N.H. but he must do so impressively.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Iowa has been a joke for quite some time, especially on the Republican side. From Wikipedia, here are the most recent results where an incumbent president wasn’t running in the primary:

    2008 – Mike Huckabee (34%), Mitt Romney (25%), Fred Thompson (13%), John McCain (13%), Ron Paul (10%), Rudy Giuliani (4%), and Duncan Hunter (1%)
    2000 – George W. Bush (41%)[citation needed], Steve Forbes (30%)[citation needed], Alan Keyes (14%), Gary Bauer (9%), John McCain (5%), and Orrin Hatch (1%)
    1996 – Bob Dole (26%), Pat Buchanan (23%), Lamar Alexander (18%), Steve Forbes (10%), Phil Gramm (9%), Alan Keyes (7%), Richard Lugar (4%), and Morry Taylor (1%)
    1988 – Bob Dole (37%), Pat Robertson (25%), George H. W. Bush (19%), Jack Kemp (11%), and Pete DuPont (7%)
    1980 – George H. W. Bush (32%), Ronald Reagan (30%), Howard Baker (15%), John Connally (9%), Phil Crane (7%), John B. Anderson (4%), and Bob Dole (2%)

    In 2008, the eventual nominee finished a distant fourth.

    2004 featured an incumbent president.

    In 2000, the ultimate winner took Iowa. But the strong second place finisher in the primaries came in a distant 5th.

    In 1996 the nominee won. But he was essentially a Favorite Son, who’d run away with Iowa in 1988, too.

    In 1988, the eventual nominee and president came in an embarrassing third.

    In 1980, Ronald Stinkin’ Reagan came in second.

  4. TG Chicago says:

    To me, this means that Romney thinks Palin is entering the race.

    The reason I say this is that if he won Iowa — a state that doesn’t play to his strengths — that would give him a huge leg up on the entire contest. I think winning Iowa would really put him in the catbird’s seat, giving him an air of inevitability that would help him in the rest of the contests (like GWB in 2000). If no social conservative populist can beat him in Iowa, where are they going to beat him? Maybe some southern states, but that’s about it.

    Given that Romney has an organization that led him to a second place position (defeating the eventual nominee) in 2008 — and given that the guy who beat him isn’t running — Romney is well positioned to win Iowa.

    So why would he give up Iowa? Is he so afraid of Pawlenty, whom he is thrashing in the polls?

    Nope. There’s a chance he’s worried about Bachmann sucking up the oxygen, but I bet the main factor is that he’s counting on Palin running. If Palin runs, she probably wins Iowa no matter what Romney does. But if Palin doesn’t run, Romney has a great chance to win and use that as a springboard to the nomination.

    Romney thinks Palin is getting in.