As much as the media, the White House and the Republican establishment want a nominee to be determined Tuesday night, it won’t be. Expect to hear all about how important Iowa is if Romney wins. If someone else wins, expect to hear how little Iowa means.
The rush to determine a nominee yesterday is a product of the 24-hour news cycle and its purveyors. It’s also the wish of whoever happens to ahead in the latest polls. Only candidates behind the polls and, of course, the voters themselves have any patience for the process itself. The former is self-interested and relatively unimportant. But the latter group has the keys to the car – and no one can leave the party until the voters are ready.
Those keys aren’t in Iowa or New Hampshire or even South Carolina. And they certainly aren’t in any cable news studio in Washington or New York. They’re wherever the process ends and a clear nominee emerges. It could be anywhere after any of these votes, or it could go all the way to the convention. But it will end. And if it does, that will be when the real fun begins.