It’s your lucky day, Sarah Palin: Mitt Romney will skip the Iowa straw poll in mid-August, his team announced on Thursday. The decision confirms what many had already suspected: that Romney would rather present himself as a pragmatic businessman than as a torch-bearer for the conservative social issues that carry great weight with Iowa Republicans. His campaign said he still plans to compete in the Iowa caucuses in February 2012, though Iowa officials say that sitting out the straw poll will decrease his chances. Romney won the straw poll in 2007, but then lost the Iowa caucuses to Mike Huckabee. His absence will leave an opening for more conservative candidates like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann to grab more votes and possibly gain momentum in the early stages of the nominating process.
2012 Charlie Neibergall / AP