Friday, June 10, 2011

Romney to Skip Iowa Straw Poll

At WSJ, "Romney to Skip Key Poll in Iowa":

Mitt Romney will skip a key early test for Republican presidential candidates by forgoing the Iowa straw poll in mid-August, a decision that could recast the contest in the nation's first presidential nominating state.

The Iowa straw poll, held in Ames, is one of the landmark events of the nominating contest. Mr. Romney's decision sends the clearest signal yet that he doesn't want to wade deeply into the social issues that carry particular weight with Iowa Republicans and instead intends to present himself to voters nationally as a successful businessman who can improve the economy.

Mr. Romney's campaign said he would still compete in Iowa's caucuses, now slated for February, 2012. But the former Massachusetts governor's absence from the Aug. 13 straw poll will likely diminish his chances, some Iowa officials say, while raising the odds that whoever wins the poll will be best positioned to claim the status as Mr. Romney's top rival for the nomination.
More at the link. I think it's a mistake. Romney's still going to compete in Iowa next year, so why the hesitance this early on? Better to go all in for the initial beauty contests, like this straw poll, and see how it plays. Romney invested heavily in Ames in 2007, and came out with a win. And he took second in the Iowa caucuses in 2008. Seems as if Romney thinks that social conservatives --- who dominate the GOP caucus electorate --- don't care about economic issues. But everybody cares about economic issues right now, so why miss the chance to make the case in the Hawkeye State?

On the other hand:
In the 2008 election cycle, Mr. McCain skipped the Ames poll and then placed a distant third in the caucuses before going on to win the nomination.
So who knows? Prediction is hard, especially about the future.