Remember my mantra? When it comes to Campaign 2008, nobody knows anything. But here goes nothing:

This race for the presidency gets "curiouser and cusiouser."

The latest polls show Romney and Edwards ahead in Iowa. Admittedly, Romney is a minor surprise for me, although it probably should not be. McCain begins in a hole, as he by-passed Iowa in 2000, and Giuliani is just not a great fit for the Hawkeye State. As for Edwards, he has been running hard in Iowa for four years. If Edwards is not strong there, he is not a viable candidate anywhere.

The question of the day, however, is this:

Does Iowa matter?

Some things to think about: Although Iowa Democrats have a respectable record of selecting their eventual party nominee, the Republican straw poll has been much quirkier. The GOP caucus in Iowa is the same group that passed over Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980, selected Bob Dole and Pat Robertson over George H.W. Bush in 1988 and made a contender out of Pat Buchanan in 1992. I defy anyone to find a pattern in all that, other than kooky randomness. The Iowa GOP is not impressive as a bellweather even under normal circumstances.

And these are not normal circumstances. Iowa has even less meaning for 2008. As important delegate-rich states rush to move their primaries forward to the earliest possible dates, we are on the verge of having a national primary over a fortnight. That is, over a few nights in January and early February, all the candidates will be competing in a large number of states for all the marbles.

To reiterate, we are talking about a national primary, which means the winner will be the candidate who builds the best national organization, proves the most adroit at manipulating the national and local media and raises enough money to keep all these balls in the air.

Iowa has always been mostly psychological and momentum building, but that is especially true for this election cycle. Iowa (and more accurately the pre-Iowa polls) are mostly about creating the aura of electability.

Having said all that, I still would rather be on top in Iowa at this moment than running second or third there.