Have the first white flags of the 2012 GOP presidential race already been raised?
From Political Wire:
The Des Moines Register notes that the “relative quiet” among prospective 2012 presidential candidates “could signal a fateful shift for Iowa: Republicans less identified with the right wing of the party might think they can win the nomination without betting it all on the Iowa caucuses.”
“The traffic is far lighter than in 2005, when a half-dozen Republicans made multiple trips to the state, meeting with advisers and planning 2008 strategy.”
And there is one person Iowa can blame – Mike Huckabee.
In 2008, Huckabee won Iowa with far less money and paid-for organization than his main rival in the state, Mitt Romney.
Well, it turns out other potential candidates don’t want to risk wasting money or precious time campaigning in a state that Huckabee may already own for the 2012 primary season. In addition, by ceding Iowa, other potential 1st tier candidates don’t risk the same embarrassment that drowned Romney’s campaign. Instead, they can mitigate the Huckabee Effect and focus the race on New Hampshire and beyond.
If the less socially conservative-oriented candidates do in fact bail on Iowa, it doesn’t make the state worthless. Other social cons considering a candidacy for President, like Rick Santorum, would be well served betting the farm (pun intended) on Iowa. If they can beat, or even come close to beating Huckabee, they would steal away massive amounts of momentum as the candidate who brought down the Huckabee machine.