With less than a week until the Iowa Caucuses, things are looking for good for Mitt Romney. The recent polls find him leading in the state or coming in a close second behind Ron Paul. Either would be a positive outcome for the Romney campaign.
Obviously if Romney wins Iowa that would clearly be a big victory for him. He has not focused heavily on the state, and up until just recently wasn’t expected to win. A victory in the caucuses would be Romney exceeding expectations. It gives him a boost going into New Hampshire, where he is is almost assured to win big. Back to back victories in the first two states would help create a sense of inevitability.
If, on the other hand, Ron Paul wins Iowa and Romney comes in second that should also help lead to an eventual Romney nomination. Paul winning Iowa would help to clear the field of the other non-Romney candidates who invested heavily in Iowa yet still lost. It would be tough for a candidate such as Rick Perry to come back from a third place finish.
A Paul win in Iowa with Romney in second would help reduce the primary to basically a two man contest between Paul and Romney. While it could turn into a slow and tedious fight to win enough delegates state by state, a head-to-head race between just Paul and Romney is almost assured to end with Romney winning eventually.
Paul has a dedicated fan base but his problem is the bulk of the Republican base simply doesn’t see him as acceptable or presidential. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 67 percent of voters who lean Republican think Romney has the “personality and temperament” to be president. Only 37 percent think Paul does.
Similarly a Gallup poll from early this month found 54 percent of the GOP said Romney is an acceptable nominee. The same poll found only 34 percent thought Paul is acceptable, while 62 percent claim he would not be acceptable. Rick Santorum was the only other candidate that an equally large percentage of the base said would be unacceptable. This is the reason Santorum’s tiny surge in Iowa is itself decent news for Romney.
Paul may have a large campaign war chest, the determination to go all the way, and the ability to get support from independents in the states where they can vote in the GOP primary, but in the long run the party leadership and the base don’t see him as acceptable. In just a head-to-head match-up eventually Romney would win the nomination.