2012 Iowa Caucus Results

If Tuesday night was any indicator of how the 2012 election cycle will go, then we’re in for some wild moments.  Early into the evening, there was a three-way tie between Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul.  In fact, all three were hovering around the 23% mark as the votes from the various precincts were being tallied.  After a few hours, however, separation began to occur, with Ron Paul slowly slipping out of the tie between Santorum and Romney.  And, with only eight votes being the difference, it was essentially a tie.

The results:

Candidate Votes Percentage Delegates
Rick Santorum 29,839 24.57% 12
Mitt Romney 29,805 24.54% 12
Ron Paul 26,036 21.44% -
Newt Gingrich 16,163 13.31% -
Rick Perry 12,557 10.34% -
Michele Bachmann 6,046 4.98% -
Jon Huntsman 739 0.61% -
No Preference 147 0.12% -
Herman Cain 45 0.04% -
Sarah Pailin 23 0.02% -
Buddy Roemer 17 0.01% -
Fred Karger 10 0.01% -
Gary Johnson 8 0.01% -
Donald Trump 5 0.00% -
Paul Ryan 3 0.00% -
Condoleeza Rice 2 0.00% -
Roy Moore 2 0.00% -
Ben Lange 2 0.00% -
Mike Huckabee 2 0.00% -
Rudy Giuliani 2 0.00% -
Tim Pawlenty 2 0.00% -
Scott Walker 1 0.00% -
John McCain 1 0.00% -
Ralph Nader 1 0.00% -
Pat Buchanan 1 0.00% -
Robert D. Ray 1 0.00% -
Jared Blankenship 1 0.00% -
TOTAL 121,461 100.00% 24

.

(I have not listed the Delegates awarded yet, as the numbers have not yet been announced. Once they are, I will update the fields.)

Notes on the results:

Rick Perry – In his speech to his supporters on Tuesday, he stated that he was going to return to Texas to evaluate the future of his campaign.  Many took this to mean he was suspending his campaign, but a tweet the following day states that he is looking forward to the South Carolina primary.

Michele Bachmann – Following her poor showing in the state where she won the Ames straw poll, she decided to suspend her campaign.

Jon Huntsman – Huntsman was not actively campaigning in Iowa, with his first coordinated effort being in New Hampshire.

Herman Cain – Though he has suspended his campaign, he still received some votes by determined supporters.

Buddy Roemer – Roemer is one of the Republican candidates that has failed to break into the spotlight.

Reactions:

Divided We Stand, United We Fall (The Dividist Papers): The most probable outcome for 2012 is that Republicans will take the Senate majority and maintain control of the House majority. Regardless whether it is Republicans or Democrats in control, we know what happens when one party has a majority in both legislative houses and the executive branch – constitutional checks and balances are undermined and the executive branch gets free reign.

The last sentence is a position that the two of us often agree upon.  Very rarely does single-party rule result in what is best for the nation as a whole.  A divided government forces all sides involved to make some concessions, and (hopefully) results in less-bloated legislation.

Connecting.the.Dots: In the Anyone-But-Romney Sweepstakes, the umpteenth frontrunner is now Rick Santorum, whose default facial expression is that of the kid in the big family who always got the smallest slice of pie, and he will do without help from previous nominee John McCain, who is endorsing Romney, at least in part as a result of Senate brawls over torture with Santorum accusing the former POW of “not understanding how advanced interrogation works.”

Our friend goes on to discuss the comments and positions from Santorum’s time in the Senate where he will be attacked now that he’s risen to a top-tier contender.  In many ways, he spiked as the anti-Romney candidate just at the right time for Iowa, since the other campaigns did not have enough time to challenge him on his past.  Will his new-found popularity last through the New Hampshire primary?

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Iowa voters thought otherwise, taking to Paul’s strident antiwar and small-government message in enough numbers to lift him into a finish just a few percentage points behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Evangelicals, home-schoolers, young people, moderates, libertarians and disaffected Democrats formed an unlikely coalition that led to Paul’s strong showing, and at his Tuesday evening rally he predicted Iowa would be a launching pad to bigger things.

I will admit that Ron Paul did much better than I thought. He has a core group of dedicated followers which is why he always has a decent turnout, but the support seems to be much larger this year. While I don’t think he’ll win enough delegates to become the Republican nominee however, I think he will play a major role is shaping the narrative in the general election.

TalkLeft: Mitt Romney is running as the acceptable anti-Obama. He may not be the favored candidate of extreme Republicans (chew on that phrase for a moment), but they aren’t voting for Obama. The attacks on him will drive down his favorables, but he’s not running to win, he is running to have Obama lose.

Whatever flaws Romney has as a political candidate, it is hard to see how he will not be considered as an acceptable alternative by those inclined to vote against Obama.

Romney definitely has the resources, the experience, and the name recognition which makes it easier for him to campaign against the other Republicans. Add to that, he was fairly well vetted in the 2008 election cycle, so it will be harder for the Obama campaign to paint Romney in a way that will further negatively impact the impression the general public has of him.

Questions and Observations: Ok, just being flip, but I’ve never really thought that much of the caucus process and still don’t. All this excitement, work and rhetoric over approximately 225,000 votes. Yes I understand the possibility of winnowing the field (think Newt will finally take the hint?).

So Romney won – by 8 votes out of about 225,000 total. That’s not as surprising to me, frankly, than who came in second. Very disappointing to the Paulbots, I’m sure. But Rick Santorum? Seriously?

There has been a lot said about how Romney “lost” because he “won” by only 8 votes. I don’t really think anyone with more than 20% of the vote in a wide open field can be considered a loser, especially since the Iowa caucus winner rarely picks up the Republican nomination. The real test will come in New Hampshire. Can Romney, Santorum, and Paul come in the top three again? Will it be close? Will the others drop out?

Capitol Commentary: So why are the Iowa Caucuses relevant? Because they show how far a candidate is willing to go on the record in their move to the Right in order to gain votes. How “hardline” will a person publicly go on topics such as immigration, defense, foreign policy, taxes, and social issues such as abortion shows voters nationally how much a given candidate will bend philosophically and politically to advance their career.

Perhaps this is why the Iowa Caucuses have had a poor track record of predicting which Republican candidate will go on to win the nomination.

That’s a good point. Iowa is more of a litmus test than an actual measure of what the nation is looking for. Also, with it being first, it’s a proving ground to see if the candidate can put together a strong campaign to get out the vote and convey a solid message. Romney, Paul, and Santorum have all been credited for staying on topic, while those that came in lower (Perry, Gingrich, Bachmann) all found themselves having to adjust their positions and/or correcting prior statements during the campaign.

The Agitator: In all seriousness, that Santorum is the big story tonight shows just how ephemeral campaign coverage can be. If I had predicted two years ago that a warmongering, evangelical, career politician would win the 2012 Iowa GOP Caucuses, you’d have shrugged a meh. That’s about what you’d have expected would happen (see: Huckabee, Mike).

But if I had predicted that a stridently anti-war politician—who also wants to end the drug war, and who won a higher ACLU rating than any other candidate running in either of the two major parties—would finish third, and was four percentage points from winning, you’d likely have told me I was nuts. Yet because Paul began his ascent a few weeks ago, his showing is tonight is already old news.

Great analysis. As I said earlier, Santorum spiked at the right time because he captured the headlines to become relevant, while the competition didn’t have enough time to campaign against him and his positions. And since he was “fresh,” all the other non-Romney candidates became secondary news items.

First Door on the Left: My dream would be that Santorum, Romney or Paul would win this thing. Actually, I would be quite pleased if any of the candidates walked away with it. None of them possess the intelligence or the disposition to serve as President of the United States.

I cannot believe our media is wasting so much time and energy on these jesters.

Each is entitled to their own opinion, but as I’ve mentioned before, it pays to follow what your competition is doing in order to achieve victory. Otherwise, you will find yourself unprepared to counter any attacks.

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