A bizarre and confusing very long four-screen epic of Romney kremlinology spin and counterspin that sets my counter-counter-counter-agent head spinning: are they trying to set up Romney for a fall by declaring him the likely winner? Are they trying to scare off voters for the other possible winners? Are they just desperate to file counternarrative copy in that hoary ol' 24-7 news cycle?
All I know from this piece is various people close to Romney think he will win, won't win, will be second, is sure he's doing fine, doesn't want anyone to know how fine or poorly he's doing, is working hard in Iowa, isn't really campaigning there much at all, or who the hell knows.
And that Politico leads in graf two with this:
a slew of public and private polling and anecdotal evidence on the ground suggests that Romney is within striking distance of a first-place finish in Iowa — especially as Ron Paul’s momentum spurt appears to have run into the reality of front-runners’ scrutiny.
...then manages to go on for four more screens naming none of those polls (you got an entire "slew," buddies! Can't you toss us a smidge from your slew?), giving no numbers from them, and not mentioning them again, though they seem somewhat key to their thesis.
Actual Real Clear Politics average over past 9 days has Ron Paul ahead of Romney by 1.7 points. (There is a Rasmussen from the 19th that has Romney ahead by 5 percent. But that's the 19th.) This PPP from the past two days has Paul both in the lead at 24 and with the largest percentage saying they are strongly committed to him, at 28.
Huffington Post with a similar story of mystery Romney victory unsupported by specific facts. Washington Post on how Romney is playing the Iowa expectation game. Right-wing site Town Hall on why Romney's electability is a myth.
UPDATE: Since this post was written, RCP added a new Time/CNN poll to the average, which brings Paul's lead over Romney down to 0.5 percent over the past 9 days.