Marc Ambinder elaborates on his suggestion that Pawlenty skip Iowa, and I still don't buy it.
Yes, caucuses favor extreme candidates, and that isn't likely to be Pawlenty's strength. But it's not as if Iowa is an outlier; the Republican electorate overall is likely to support candidates they perceive as very conservative in 2012. That's not great luck for Pawlenty.
But Pawlenty doesn't have to win in Iowa to be viable. He just has to get some traction there -- partially in order to keep other candidates from gaining traction. If Pawlenty passes and the field finishes, say, Palin/Romney/Huck in Iowa, then how is Pawlenty, who enters the 2012 cycle with very little national exposure at all, going to finish better than third in New Hampshire? And if Romney and Palin finish 1-2, in whichever order, in Iowa and New Hampshire, is there any reason to think that Pawlenty can suddenly leapfrog them to win in South Carolina? Meanwhile, if Romney and Pawlenty skip Iowa, which one is likely to get more national media attention leading up to New Hampshire -- the one who is already nationally known, or the one who is nationally still very obscure?
Yes, it's apt to be very difficult for someone who movement conservatives don't like to win in Iowa, but only because it's going to be difficult for someone who movement conservatives don't like to win the nomination. As so many candidates have learned, however, you get nominated by competing not by waiting for the perfect state to run in.
I just can't see any logic at all for skipping Iowa for anyone but the most well-known and most well-funded frontrunners -- and even then, I think it's very, very risky.