One tendency in the ever-strange Republican presidential primary season has been this: When the words goes forth that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is "inevitable" as the Republican nominee, he tends to win. When something comes along and punctures that, even if briefly, he tends to lose.
Just ahead of Super Tuesday, Romney's timing looks pretty good. He won, decisively, the caucuses in Washington state, and that wouldn't necessarily have been a foregone conclusion. Those caucuses have gone for Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson in times past. And other candidates, notably Ron Paul, have a significant presence in the state. But since the Michigan and Arizona primaries, there's been a steady drumbeat that yes, really, we mean it this time, Romney will be the guy. And that may have helped him in Washington.
Speculation here is that this will spill over into Idaho tomorrow. Romney does have natural advantages in Idaho. Nearly all of the state's Republican establishment, from the governor and senators on down, is in his camp, and the large portion of Idaho Republicans who are Mormon will largely be there too. (There's even a small thread of Romney's family history in southeast Idaho.) Substantial as all that is, it's not necessarily enough.
But the environment is favorable too. Idaho Republicans heading to caucus - a new event for them in the Gem State - will be well aware of the national situation and, especially in northern Idaho, of Washington state's too. A strong Romney win in Idaho looks like the probable outcome.
Will they fool us again?