Like everyone else in town watching the GOP presidential primary unfold, it's been on my mind that a victory for Mitt Romney in Iowa tonight, given the beachhead he's established in New Hampshire, would be a real game-changer, or, at this early stage, a game-maker. But an observation by my colleague Alex Roarty, who is on the ground in New Hampshire, drives home just how significant a Romney win would be. He writes that no Republican presidential candidate has ever pulled off back-to-back victories in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The trend applies only to non-incumbents of course, and it dates to the relatively recent birth of Iowa caucus politics as we know them, in 1976. Still, if Romney wins tonight, as the prime beneficiary of the splintered evangelical/conservative vote in Iowa, and then collects the next primary prize in New Hampshire just a week later, it would be a first in contemporary American politics. And it would lend a whole new meaning to George H.W. Bush's immortal description of acquiring the "Big Mo." It might even be one of those rare events that lives up to the breathless coverage it surely will get from the media and the punditocracy.