Tonight, it’s very possible that for Obama, once again, it all comes down to Iowa. It carries the same potential to make or break him as the first time he ran four years ago. Last night, Obama got emotional as he delivered closing remarks in Des Moines. He reflected on his 2008 campaign with a tone of nostalgia and teared up when talking about his first campaign office, which was located near last night’s rally. Even though Hillary Clinton received criticism and had her leadership abilities questioned when she grew emotional campaigning during her presidential bid, Obama’s moment has come across as sincere and genuine because of his relationship with Iowa.
Iowa has always held a special place in Obama’s heart. It was thanks to the Iowan caucus that he ever received the Democratic nomination and became the official candidate for the party back in 2008. He won the state over McCain by almost ten points that cycle. But the relationship between Obama and Iowa has grown strained. He hopes to replicate his prior success tonight and it will not be easy. The race has turned out to be a much tougher battle than expected.
Although he narrowly leads the state in the latest polls with a slight advantage, a Romney win is well within reach. Internal polling data conducted by Romney pollster Neil Newhouse and obtained by the Daily Mail shows Romney winning the state by two points. Part of the shift away from Obama could be explained by the fact that enthusiasm is far lower this time around. The Hawkeye State feels burned and let down by Obama’s previous, and yet to be fulfilled, idealistic rhetoric of post-partisanship and hope.
Undoubtedly, the battle for Iowa will be close. Even though Obama could still win the White House without it, a loss there would be the hardest for him to face. No matter the outcome of the national race, Obama would be forced to confront reality. There would no longer be a way for him to deny how far he has fallen in just four short years.