Mitt Romney increasingly is being seen as a winner in Iowa, even if he fails to win the state’s caucuses on Tuesday.

A second-place finish on Jan. 3 in Iowa could lock up the GOP nomination quickly for the former Massachusetts governor, who appears all but unbeatable in the next contest — New Hampshire’s Jan. 10 primary.

“If he comes in first or second in Iowa and wins New Hampshire, he will be the prohibitive favorite — it’s very difficult to see a scenario where he’s not our nominee,” said Al Cardenas, head of the American Conservative Union, who is officially neutral in the 2012 contest but worked on Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The political winds in Iowa have shifted from candidate to candidate throughout the past year.

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