The model gives him a 44 percent chance of winning Iowa based on the current standing of the candidates and the historic uncertainty of polling-based forecasts. Mr. Romney has a 32 percent chance of winning, while Mr. Gingrich's chances have crashed to 15 percent.

If these numbers hold through January 3 (and given how much things have already changed, that's an enormous if), then Mitt Romney is about to get exactly what he hoped for in Iowa: finishing ahead of any candidate that has a legitimate shot at winning the Republican nomination. But even though the Republican establishment is probably letting loose a big sigh of relief today, there's still two more weeks for all hell to break loose.

ORIGINALLY POSTED TO DAILY KOS ELECTIONS ON MON DEC 19, 2011 AT 07:45 AM PST.

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