It’s the narrative and perception.
From Jeff Emanuel:
It’s weird that you keep mocking Romney for saying he’s going to be the nominee, but you don’t mock Newt for saying the exact same thing.
The tweet nails it. Romney might get 23% of the Iowa vote. The paul bots will deliver 20%. That leaves 57% going to the conservative candidates.
While you’re at it, do you have tonight’s winning lottery numbers?
What intrigues me is that this seems to be pre-emptive spin. Is he conceding that Romney will get 23%? If so, unless there is some dramatic shift in these last hours, that will likely be enough to win the caucus (albeit narrowly).
But the main point is this: No, Romney is no stronger in Iowa than he was four years ago. What makes his nomination highly likely (not quite inevitable) should he win Iowa is that the opposition remains completely fractured. The opposition to Romney has had AMPLE time to unite behind a candidate and a plethora of options to choose from. They have failed to do so and are highly unlikely to do so before New Hampshire; possibly not even before South Carolina.
Yes, yes, this is partly because the GOP “Establishment” (to the extent that it exists) strongly prefers Romney and consistently attacked the not-Romneys as each one rose to the top. And yes, it’s partly because Romney completely bulldozed Gingrich in Iowa.
However, a strong candidate with broad appeal would have been able to withstand all of this onslaught, particularly if the anti-Romney voters passionately united behind him. But, none of the other candidates are strong, as we have seen demonstrated time and time again and the opposition has failed to unite behind any one of them.
And that is why Romney has a clear path to the nomination if he wins today.