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Don't believe the Iowa hype

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
updated 12:04 PM EST, Tue January 3, 2012
Reporters crowd around Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, in Ames, Iowa. Roland Martin says political commentators exaggerate Iowa's significance.
Reporters crowd around Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, in Ames, Iowa. Roland Martin says political commentators exaggerate Iowa's significance.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roland Martin objects to the notion that you have to take Iowa to win
  • Martin: No candidate should drop out based on performance in Iowa or New Hampshire
  • The 48 other states must not be dismissed, he says; changes in fortunes happen
  • Iowa boosted Obama, he says, but not winners Huckabee, Buchanan or Tsongas

Editor's note: Roland S. Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- To the Republican voters in the other 49 states, I sympathize with you. It must be painful to turn on every cable and broadcast network, read the websites and follow the blogs and realize that you mean absolutely nothing when it comes to choosing a GOP nominee for president of the United States.

Please, don't even bother. Iowa has it all under control, and what happens there, and in New Hampshire, will settle the race once and for all.

What a load of animal droppings on the Iowa farm fields.

Conventional wisdom, which really means the opinions of the smart, politically savvy know-it-all sages in Washington, says that if you don't win Iowa or place high there, you won't be able to raise the money to continue, and you might as well go home and lick your wounds.

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

Remember when that was the standard talk in 2008 after then-Sen. Barack Obama won Iowa? The political elites said if he beat Sen. Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, the race was over. A lot of voters in the Granite State were offended to hear that, especially women, and backed Clinton. As a result, those two fought it out for another five months in a grueling race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

It has always offended me that voters in the other states are seen as also-rans. And that's the No. 1 reason why Michigan, Florida, Nevada and South Carolina threatened or successfully moved their primaries and caucuses: They wanted to matter, and not just accept what Iowa and New Hampshire gave them.

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No GOP candidate should entertain the notion of dropping out of the race based on what happens in Iowa on Tuesday night. Why end it after one state? I bet former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty regrets dropping out after the Ames, Iowa, straw poll, which Rep. Michele Bachmann won.

Was he having money issues? Sure. But so were Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. The latter two vaulted to the top of the polls based on debate performances. See, it paid to keep going.

It's true that Iowa can be a game changer if you are not expected to win. It was a huge boost for Obama in 2008, but for past Iowa winners such as Mike Huckabee, Pat Buchanan and Paul Tsongas, it didn't lead to winning their respective party's presidential nomination.

Now I doubt Mitt Romney, Ron Paul or even Rick Santorum will slip up after Tuesday night, but no one knows for sure. We've seen a lot of crazy things happen in this race so far. So we might as well be prepared for the unpredictable.

In fact, I find it hilarious that so many folks in the chattering class say it's all about Iowa, and Mitt Romney turns into The Dominator if he wins. Yet if Ron Paul wins, the results don't matter. Really?

So excuse me if I sound like a contrarian by refusing to buy the media hype of putting so much on Iowa. It's one of 50 states. It's the first, sure. But it sure as hell shouldn't be the last, or even next to last, for all of the candidates.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

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