how even if Romney wins Iowa, he loses—in fact, Romney lost Iowa over a year ago
“Credit Chuck Todd for candor,” writes the painfully literal, naive, and unreflective Mark Finkelstein in a NewsBusters expository gloss titled Iowa: ‘Media Ready to Take 3rd-Place McCain Finish and Catapult Him to NH Win’
The NBC News Political Director has acknowledged that the media is poised to take a third-place finish by John McCain in Iowa, declare him the winner and catapult the Arizona senator to victory in New Hampshire …
From the interview that Finklestein quotes:
CHUCK TODD: Yeah you know, I hate to be existential here, but the media — and I say this as if I’m not a member of it — but the media does seem to be ready to will John McCain out of Iowa [i.e., with his “ticket punched” for NH]. It is a stunning thing, and if I were Mitt Romney, or Giuliani or Mike Huckabee I’d be like “wait a minute. You’re gonna take a third place finish and somehow use that to catapult this guy, with free media, and get him the victory in New Hampshire?” And frankly that is what’s gonna happen. There’s a reason John McCain is sort of the king of working the media. He’s doing a great job of it.
MATTHEWS: Gary Hart back in 1984 got 17% in Iowa, Walter Mondale got 49%. Guess who “won”? Gary Hart “won.” The media declared him the winner and he won in New Hampshire. You are so dead right, if it happens … etc.
No, Finklestein, you have not stumbled across a conspiracy of media elites to dupe the American electorate, but precisely the opposite. What is at stake for Todd and Matthews is the interpretation of events and how to accurately report them.
Here is the question at issue: Should the decision that Iowa returns be accepted on its face, or should observers consider and compare other data, other evidence?
Our own answer: Long ago we argued that Romney had so over-spent and so over-organized in Iowa and New Hampshire that he had prejudiced the outcome—any outcome—in advance. In other words, Romney has denied himself the possibility of an unequivocal victory in either state. Will Romney win? Of course he will—he has wildly out-spent all his rivals combined. So a Romney win is by definition a non-story: dog bites man is not a story. But for Gov. Huckabee with no money or organization to eke out a close second, or Sen. McCain a close third—this resembles man bites dog, which is a story. And should Romney lose?—this would be the story of the decade. See:
Our own conclusion? Iowa and New Hampshire no longer matter no matter who wins. Romney will have spent US$80 million dollars—over US$20 million of it his own—for no clear return. But please understand: Team Romney’s death-spiral drain-circling began over a year ago. All of Romney’s alleged successes since then have been an illusion.
- “We were sitting around with a PowerPoint”—said a senior Romney advisor, “We weren’t sitting around with a crystal ball”—how Team Romney lost Iowa over a year ago in a posh Boston suburb
- Romney’s Kevin Madden “flabbergasted” at Team Romney’s helplessness against under-funded and un-organized Gov. Huckabee—Romney loses control of his spending says Carr—more on Romney’s fantastically low ROI for his every campaign dollar