With Gov. Romney leading in polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, & Michigan its evident that the conservative base is finding their candidate. The first quarter fundraising victory combined with a couple stellar debate performances are introducing more Iowa Caucus attendees to Gov. Romney. Mitt may not have the name recognition of candidates from larger states, or those who have previously run for president.
But, its clear that the national exposure(Time magazine,etc.) is helping introduce Gov. Romney to the Hawkeye State.
As Mitt's support grows, the "expectations game" of the upcoming Iowa Straw Poll becomes a factor. I would not be surprised to see at least one "top tier" candidate announce that they will not participate in Ames, in order to "save face". If its appparent that Romney will win the Iowa Straw Poll look for other candidates to make negative remarks about the event and how they will not participate for sake "of principle." Or will only make a "token effort" for the event. The "Iowa Straw Poll" was a big factor in 1999 and its stature has grown.
I was in Des Moines last week and had the opportunity to visit the Romney Iowa Headquarters and chat with a couple of the field staffers. I was very impressed with their professionalism. Mitt has a fine organization in place.