Willard M. Romney, better known as Mitt, will lose Iowa because when Iowa Republicans meet on caucus night conservatives will tend to unite in each community behind the conservative candidate who can defeat Romney in that community.
It is conceivable that Romney comes in third in Iowa.
I am predicting that Romney will lose Iowa. I am not predicting who will win Iowa, because that depends on which candidate conservatives ultimately unite behind on caucus night. Most likely it would be Newt Gingrich in an attempt by conservatives to make Gingrich the final alternative to Romney long term, or it could be Paul, or Michele Bachmann.
Paul is an interesting wild card in Iowa. He can win Iowa, and if for some reason Newt falls back, I suspect he will win. The media has always underestimated the premium of passion, conviction and organization in the Paul campaign. Paul's main competitor in Iowa is Newt. If Newt maintains his support, which is questionable, he has a good shot at Iowa, and if he does not, my bet is Paul.
The insider political consensus is that we now have a 2 person race between Romney and Gingrich, which Romney will ultimately win, which will be decided early in the process.
Today most insiders tout Gingrich as the great right hope against Romney. Maybe. But they once touted Trump, Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry. We will see.
Most insiders think this campaign is decided early. I strongly disagree.
There will be unbearable pressure on lagging conservative candidates, probably beginning with Perry and Cain, to drop out. Perry and Cain lack institutional support in the party. If conservatives pressure them to leave they would have no support left, and would be blamed by the right for nominating Romney by staying in too long.
In my view this nomination will be decided, at the earliest, on Super Tuesday and not before.
The tendency will be for conservatives to unite behind one candidate by Super Tuesday, and that candidate will have a clean shot at Romney by Super Tuesday and beyond.
It is possible that Romney drags conservatives kicking and screaming until he gets 51 percent of the delegates. Conservatives aren't stupid.
They see through Romney in a heartbeat. But conservatives may be dumb. The only way that the majority that opposes Romney is defeated by the minority that supports him is if conservatives remain divided.
Don't bet on it. The closer we get to the moment of truth, the more conservatives will pressure their losers to drop out and get behind the strongest alternative to Romney. There will be 2 or 3 finalists.
Definitely Mitt Romney. Definitely Ron Paul. Probably but not certainly Gingrich.
If conservatives are forced to settle for Romney, who many hold in contempt, Ron Paul could run a blockbuster third party campaign, if he chooses.