…from the First Read (note the eye-popping Romney internal poll, fwiw):
…don’t assume that the $3 million or so that Giuliani and McCain save from not competing is somehow helpful for the later states. (What exactly does $3 million buy in California? Not much.) This decision was not about the calendar as it was about not giving Romney an opportunity for a major win this August. Don’t over-read into this decision by both campaigns. Remember, Romney was spending endless amounts of money to win this straw poll.
Indeed, the Los Angeles Times sees the decision as about slowing down Romney. “The lack of top-tier competition could undercut a Romney victory, denying the former Massachusetts governor momentum from a win.”
The Des Moines Register’s Yepsen: “The Ames straw poll has become a shake-down of candidates that, for some, has replaced the caucuses themselves as a test of viability.” But “that trial run is useful training for caucus night,” especially for Giuliani, who “is slow getting started in Iowa,” and “could use a little hustle.” “Romney’s win won’t count for much.”
By the way, we got our hands on an internal Romney Iowa poll from late May. That poll, taken a week ago, had Romney at 29%, Giuliani at 12%, Fred Thompson and Gingrich at 10% each, McCain at 9%, and Huckabee at 7%. This was a significant change from a March Romney poll, which had Giuliani at 24%, McCain at 17%, Gingrich and Romney at 15%, and Huckabee at 7%.