A trio of stories illustrate the "eh, Iowa" sentiment bubbling up through the Republican establishment.
This Fred Barnes piece in the Weekly Standard captures the sentiment:
But never mind Iowa. The candidates, the political community, and the media pay a dizzying amount of attention to the state, though the results of the caucuses rarely matter. They aren’t predictive. The winner doesn’t usually capture the nomination, much less the presidency. Ronald Reagan came in second in 1980 and went on to become a two-term president. John McCain essentially skipped Iowa in 2008 and won the nomination anyway.
I don't have anything against Iowa's Republican caucusgoers. They're nice people, good Americans, conscientious and aware of their responsibilities as voters in the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary. (Iowa Democratic caucusgoers are like this too.)
But the Iowa Republican caucuses have a poor record in choosing their party's nominees. In the five presidential nominating cycles with active Iowa Republican caucus competition, the Hawkeye State has voted for the eventual Republican nominee only twice—in 1996 for Bob Dole, in 2000 for George W. Bush—and only once was the Iowa winner elected president.
And playing off the Barone piece, Alexander Burns
Turnout down in Iowa?
Can you feel the love for the caucuses, seven days out?
One gets the distinct impression that, unhappy with the current state of affairs, if Romney doesn't win Iowa the pundits will claim that Iowa doesn't matter. Of course, if Romney wins, the story will be different: Iowa once again crowns a victor.