Rich, as you can probably guess, I have to disagree with you. Getting 14,000 people out to Ames when 23,000 went last time is precisely a mark that Ames is nothing — or, rather, that the decision by the race’s three frontrunners to skip Ames effectively made it mean nothing because surely if Rudy and McCain and Fred Thompson had chosen to go for it, more than 23,000 people would have shown up. In any case, that 14,000 only counts in terms of Iowa, one of the most unrepresentative states in the union and one whose caucuses are usually unimportant.
That being said, I agree with you that Rudy will have to “outperform” in one of the early states to win the nomination. But that’s setting the bar pretty low for him, if you think about it. He’s leading or tied in South Carolina right now, and it stands to reason that he can do pretty well in New Hampshire if he tries.