The Iowa caucus might have gotten too conservative for its own good: The 2012 presidential contenders are spending less time in the state than usual, and others are avoiding it altogether, the AP reports. Mitt Romney in particular is MIA, which makes sense, given that he spent $10 million and loads of time there in 2008, and got trounced for his trouble. “I would not look for Mitt to follow that pattern again,” a Romney spokesman said.
“Does the Iowa caucus have the same punch it once had? Probably not,” says Mark Salter, one of the top aides to John McCain’s 2008 campaign. McCain won the nomination that year despite all but avoiding Iowa. “Other people may be making that decision,” says Salter, because Iowa Republicans have become “very socially conservative," making victory there unlikely for moderates and less impressive for conservatives. Others suspect candidates are simply holding back, believing campaigning began too early in 2007.