There are various theories about how front-loading will affect the 2008 contest. One is that it will actually magnify the importance of Iowa, where all indications are that there will be a close four-way race among Clinton, Edwards, Obama and Vilsack. Another is that the candidates with the most money and national support will “go long” and husband resources for delegate-rich post-SC states like CA and FL.
I would only observe that to a surprising extent there’s no real “answer” to this question. A whole bunch of influential reporters (the mythic “gang of 500”) could just decide they don’t really want to spend winter in Des Moines, proclaim that under the new schedule Iowa doesn’t really matter, and then all head down to Florida and California to cover the newly important warm-weather primaries. The whole process unfolds according to a series of more-or-less arbitrary pseudo-rules than the media (and to some extent big dollar donors) are just kind of making up as they go along.