Formerly we argued that Team Romney’s decision to go negative in Iowa amounted to a suicide bombing, i.e. an act of complete desperation as Romney’s own negatives and icy-cold personality will not support a negative message without Romney’s own numbers plummeting. See:

Rubin: Romney’s negative advertising in Iowa evidence of the campaign’s disarray

We must now revise our hypothesis. Eye of has developed evidence to suggest an alternative reading of events on the ground in Iowa based on the Mormon support for Romney. Regard:

... In other words, the very high end of typical turnout is around 10%. IA Mormons are looking at 50%. Assuming that, under normal circumstances, Mormons participate in higher numbers, perhaps 20% would normally participate in the caucus, (just a guess) that would mean 2,800 votes. Romney will be beating that by at least 2.5x.

That means that Romney will be increasing the universe of caucus-goers by approximately 4,200 people. Increasing the universe is the Holy Grail of winning the Iowa caucuses, but most people don’t succeed. (Exhibit A is always the famed Youth Vote)

The upshot is that you can safely add 5% or so to Romney’s numbers in any Iowa poll. Furthermore, if the Romney campaign is smart — and they are very, very smart — they are trying to drive these numbers even higher. What if turnout was 70% not 50%? Then that would be the equivalent of adding about 7% to his numbers.

The bottom line is that Mitt Romney will win a caucus that looks close. Romney starts with 5-7% of the vote. Any attempt to play down Romney’s chances in Iowa is just a game, the expectations game … etc.

This reads like a Team Romney Orange Plan.

“Under the threat of impending disaster, [General MacArthur] determined on that day to withdraw his forces on Luzon to the Bataan Peninsula, to declare the Philippine capital, Manila, an open city, and to transfer his headquarters to the tiny island of Corregidor.”

In other words, Team Romney has tactically withdrawn from any attempt to develop a broad coalition of support in favor of a hard, narrow, double-edged wedge that consists in

(a) targeting Gov. Huckabee with ferociously negative advertising


(b) developing further its Mormon-affinity base—its only unified, committed, and coherent base of support


(1) This explains why Romney believes he can go bitterly negative against Gov. Huckabee, now, in Iowa, and survive. He believes that he can risk his own numbers crashing and still prevail in the caucus because of the unity and coherence of its Mormon supporters.

(2) If Team Romney can remove Gov. Huckabee from viability in Iowa, he will not have to face him later in states like SC where there are fewer Mormons to offset Evangelical primary voters.

(3) This fits a general pattern in Team Romney’s behavior. Earlier Romney attempted to develop a broad base of funders, failed, and fell back upon self-funding and developing further his narrow base of Mormons, bankers etc.

(4) The risk is that Romney will further marginalize himself as The Mormon Candidate.

(5) NOTA: Team Romney has failed—and continues to fail—at every attempt to build a broad base of support or to form a coalition. What is left to Team Romney is the brinksmanship that issues into plural outcomes (plural as in plurality), where committed minorities off-set a dispersed and divided majority. This strategy is not sustainable and Team Romney knows that it is not sustainable—a first-past-the-post electoral system will not support a minority candidate (in the sense of a minority government in a parliamentary system). Incredibly, Team Romney still believes that they can parley early state primary victories—without regard to how they are won or at what cost—into a band-wagoning of general support, precisely the kind of support they have consistently failed develop on the ground. In other words, having failed to build a coalition, they hope to have one handed to them by default of better choices. 

This dejected and despairing plan may have worked 30, 20, even 10 years ago.

But not now.

Now it matters more not only that you win, but how you win.

In other words, post Florida 2000, observers tend to look closer for the grounds that confer legitimacy. Too many gamers have gamed our troubled system for it to be otherwise.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

P.S. Update: shameless Romney sycophant Geraghty—of the formerly conservative NRO—spins for Romney by way of a rejoinder to eye of His point: No-no, Romney is doing terrible in Iowa, just terrible!—really … Conclusion: eye is right—Team Romney has been reduced to playing the expectations game, and the NRO is now yet another “blog for Mitt.”


  1. 1 Levinthal: “if Mr. Romney wins today’s Iowa caucuses, he may have members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to thank” « who is willard milton romney?

    […] See: Team Romney’s Iowa expectations ruse, the Mormon “orange plan” […]

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