I’ve always disliked the term ‘post mortem’ used as a synopsis of election results since it literally means ‘after death’. Which could be appropriate since the Republican party seems to be in its death throes. But I’m not going to stay up all night worrying about an alternative.
It’s ’round midnight on the west coast and the results of the Iowa caucuses have been slowly coming in. Fully 125,500 Iowans turned out for their caucus. At the moment there are less than a dozen votes separating Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney with 99% of the votes counted. Certainly it seems that both received 25% of the vote. Ron Paul got 21% of the vote. This proves me wrong about the strength of the Ron Paul flash mob, though admittedly, I was partially influenced by the hope that the media would get a black eye for ignoring Paul. I should note here that I’m not a Ron Paul supporter.
The Iowa Republican Chair has just declared Mitt Romney the winner at 30,015 votes to Rick Santorum’s 30,007 votes. Mitt Romney wins it by a nose or eight votes.
The rest of the field roughly follows Nate Silver’s predictions. Newt Gingrich finished fourth with 13%, Followed by Rick Perry at 10%, Michele Bachmann at 5% and Jon Huntsman at 1% (according to MSNBC).
So what does that mean going forth? Several questions come to mind.
We’ve already talked about who might drop out but Rick Perry announced earlier that he was retreating to Texas to consider the direction of his campaign. Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post reported that calls to Michele Bachmann’s campaign have already been made for her to step aside (Ed. note: Bachmann dropped out a few hours after this article was published while Perry has decided to stay in for now). Huntsman is in at least until New Hampshire. Gingrich is in at least until South Carolina and Florida (where he hopes to get a third revival).
Was this really a win for Romney? Technically, yes but 25% of the vote isn’t all that resounding of a triumph. That he only won over Rick Santorum; the next to the last of the other last place candidates, by a handful of votes does not give Romney a resounding launch into the rest of the campaign.
What does it mean for New Hampshire? We’ll go into that in deeper detail later. For now it bodes well for Romney who put a lot of effort into the state and winning New Hampshire could seal the nomination for Mitt. But it also certainly means a lot for Rick Santorum whom everyone had considered irrelevant earlier in the campaign. The question here is was it a lasting effect or just the flavour of the month effect?
What of Ron Paul? Surely the media will take him seriously now but will the public begin to view him as a viable candidate? Will he play well in New Hampshire and South Carolina?
Was Iowa relevant? Former New Hampshire Governor Sununu is famous for saying “Iowa picks corn, New Hampshire picks Presidents”. There is some evidence to back this claim up. Iowa has only correctly chosen one Republican nominee in the past six races, While New Hampshire has chosen five; three of which went on to be President. It could be said that ‘New Hampshire picks winners while Iowa eliminates losers’.
Will Romney be the frontrunner as conventional wisdom and Republican party status would have us believe? I always like to point out that in 2008 Romney lost to McCain who in turn lost to Obama. Why is he any more qualified to lead over Obama now?
How long will the Republican primary drag out? Will it last past Nevada? Is it fair to the rest of America if Romney is anointed after Nevada?
And then, of course, can the nominee beat Obama? Stay tuned. It’s going to be a fun year.
- Red Right Returning…Iowa Edition (538refugees.wordpress.com)
- James Moore: The Non-Romney Race in Iowa (huffingtonpost.com)
- Iowa Poll Shows Paul-Romney-Santorum Dead Heat (huffingtonpost.com)
- Iowa Caucus Final Tally: Mitt Romney Pulls It Off Over Rick Santorum With 8 Votes (mediaite.com)