Mitt Romney, as he makes his closing arguments before the Iowa caucuses, is bypassing his Republican opponents to focus on what he sees as the central decision facing voters in 2012: the choice between his vision for an “opportunity society” and the “entitlement society” he says is favored by President Barack Obama.

The former Massachusetts governor, who in recent polls is leading the GOP presidential field in Iowa, is calculating that voters have grown so distrustful of government they’ll opt to push it out of the way rather than turn to it in a time of economic turmoil.

“Now, we know how an entitlement society works,” Mr. Romney said in a speech in Davenport this week. “Those in government control the resources and they make the rules. And while the rest of us stand still, they make sure that their friends get ahead. I will take a very different path.”