Romney’s Iowa Gamble

There comes a time to roll the dice. And throw caution to the wind. Romney has.

For weeks, one of the worst kept secrets is that Romney’s army had quietly taken up positions in Iowa. Today the air war began. There isn’t any reason for Romney to make that kind of investment unless he has decided to go all out.

There is risk. Iowa voters are not his natural demographic. The social conservatives who dominate the caucuses are cold to Romney and will never be enthusiastic. He can afford to lose Iowa. (Reagan lost to Bush in 1980, and Bush placed third in 1988 behind Dole and Pat Robertson). But who Romney loses to makes all the difference. Reagan’s second place showing in 1980 resulted in a long and protracted battle for the nomination. Bush entered New Hampshire treading water after his Iowa loss, and was saved in New Hampshire thanks to a couple of silly mistakes by Dole and some brilliant tactical moves by Roger Ailes.

Can Romney lose to Ron Paul? Yes. Paul is not going to be the nominee. Can he lose to Santorum or Bachmann or Cain? It would be embarrassing, but not debilitating, for none have the resources or the ground operation needed for the long haul. If he loses to Newt? That creates a two way race that might go on for a while. And what happens if he places third? Hillary did, and it was the beginning of the end, though it took awhile for the end to come. I am sure these and other questions have been pondered by the Romney team. They have obviously now decided that the benefits outweigh the risks. For if Romney wins Iowa, and then New Hampshire, the already abundant money will become more so, and the others operating on a shoestring budget with limited staff and ground operations will find the waters difficult to navigate through the long primary season.

The lesson in this for those running for public office? In any campaign, there are difficult decisions to make. Dice to roll. Times to throw caution to the wind. And you may not know the wisdom of such decisions until long after the votes have been cast and the history books written. It’s calling living. Dancing on the head of the needle. Once a difficult decision has been made, be at peace with it, relax and enjoy the journey.

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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

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