Don't believe the Iowa hype

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

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.

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.

Roland Martin

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.

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.

Romney: Need you to sacrifice
Romney: Need you to sacrifice


    Romney: Need you to sacrifice


Romney: Need you to sacrifice 01:20
'Occupy' movement comes to Iowa
'Occupy' movement comes to Iowa


    'Occupy' movement comes to Iowa


'Occupy' movement comes to Iowa 04:27
Iowa Gov. Branstad talks GOP candidates
Iowa Gov. Branstad talks GOP candidates


    Iowa Gov. Branstad talks GOP candidates


Iowa Gov. Branstad talks GOP candidates 03:38

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.

      Election 2012

    • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      Obama makes history, again

      A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
    • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage after his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      Five things we learned

      The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
    • Demanding more from second term

      Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
    • US President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

      Victorious Obama faces challenges

      The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
    • GOP retains grip on House

      Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.