With 100% of the Iowa Caucus vote in, Mitt Romney edges out Rick Santorum by 8 votes.  Romney said in his remarks tonight that he considered this a victory for Santorum.  It would seem that Santorum emerges from Iowa as the clear conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, and in his speech said, “Game on.”

iowacaucusmap

Final results, well I was right… kind of… the winner had less than 25%.  Mitt Romney leaped (barely) over Santorum and Paul, so my top three was off.  I nailed Ron Paul’s percentage at 21%.  Gingrich, Perry and Bachmann all performed slightly worse than I expected.

  1. Mitt Romney – 24.5% 30,015
  2. Rick Santorum – 24.5% 30,007
  3. Ron Paul – 21.4%
  4. Newt Gingrich – 13.3%
  5. Rick Perry – 10.3%
  6. Michele Bachmann – 5%
  7. Jon Huntsman – 0.6%

Looking at the map above, the obvious story is that Santorum wins the rural vote, and was incredibly strong in Northwest Iowa and as you can see, he dominated the western two-thirds of Iowa.  He won the conservative counties.  For instance, Santorum won Marion County by 14%, Woodbury County by 5%, and Sioux County by 32%.  Mitt Romney won the counties that he needed to; he won by a large margin in Dallas County, just west of Des Moines and the fastest growing county in the state.  He also won Polk County, Pottawattamie County and Linn County.  Ron Paul, even with the tremendous support we saw  in Ames and Iowa City, failed to win Story and Johnson Counties.

Two things were Paul’s undoing:

1. He banked on younger voters and they did not come out for him like the campaign thought they would.  That could largely be due to the Iowa Caucus being held over Christmas break.

2.  He didn’t get the crossover vote like he expected.  While we don’t know the exact breakdown of caucus goers, and I’m sure this will be picked apart for some time, I believe an indicator of a crossover vote would be a huge turnout.  Turnout was good, a little more than 122,000, but I thought we would have needed to see more than that to really indicate a large crossover vote turnout.

Santorum won the pockets of rural voting, and he did it by running a text book campaign.  He also likely peeled evangelical voters away from both Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann.  Gingrich underperformed polling; some of his support may have gone to Romney.  He simply did not have the organization to get people out to vote.

Both Romney and Santorum have their tickets punched out of Iowa.  Paul does too, but even though his campaign is claiming victory tonight, the results in Iowa have to truly be disappointing for his supporters.  They thought they had a shot, and they fell convincingly short.

Though Bachmann she says she’s going on to South Carolina, she is finished.  There is no way she could salvage her campaign.  Perry has said he is going back to Texas to reassess his campaign, which is code for dropping out of the race.  Why would he want to continue after dropping over $3 Million and only getting 10%?  Gingrich said that since there is a virtual tie, he’s really in third place and got his ticket punched.  Nice spin, and I’m sure he’ll go on, but it will be difficult for him to prove that he is a viable candidate with a distant fourth place finish at 13% and zero money.

A week ago, Mitt Romney thought he had this wrapped up, and while yes, it was a win, it was hardly decisive considering just two weeks ago Rick Santorum was at 5% in the polls.  Should he win the nomination this illustrates that he has a problem with the base.  He needs to start communicating with them.

What to look for going forward:

1.  Conservative coalescing: If Bachmann and Perry get behind Santorum as the “anti-Romney” that will make him even more competitive in South Carolina.  South Carolina is a pretty conservative state, and while their Governor, Nikki Haley, has endorsed Romney her approval ratings right now are in the tank.  She may not be as influential with South Carolinian voters as many may think.

2.  A tightened race in New Hampshire: Skip Murphy, founder of the conservative New Hampshire blog GraniteGrok.com, told me tonight while we were both on Tony Katz’ radio program on All Patriots Media, that Santorum has the ability to make a dent in New Hampshire.  He’s visited the state a lot; his national campaign manager is from New Hampshire, and his manufacturing jobs plan has started to resonate in a state known for its manufacturing sector.  He has picked up some key social conservative endorsements such as the founder of Cornerstone Action, Karen Testerman; and Rev. Paul Berube of Grace Fellowship in Nashua, NH.

The dynamics of the race has shifted.

10 comments
  1. Since they both won the same number of delegates (7, I believe?), the contest was basically a tie.  I’m sure mistakes in the counting would easily total more than 8 votes.  

    I like this quote from an article from the National Journal:

    If it’s the Iowa caucuses, it must be time for those magical political words: “better than expected.” In the 36 years since Iowa has mattered in the presidential nomination process, doing better than expected has almost always meant much more than actually winning the first-in-the-nation caucus.

    If that is the important criterion, then Santorum succeeded resoundingly, and Romney did just “OK.”  Frankly, if I were Santorum, right now I’d be singing:

    We’ve only just begun…  😉

  2. It was a great night for Santorum. I think Matt Strawn was the big looser of the night. FOX News was not kind by 1:00 last night.

  3. Today, the establishment GOP machine goes all-in for Romney. Santorum is going to face negative campaigning of epic proportions from corporate funded super PACs. Santorum can’t afford to go as negative to match because: 1) He literally doesn’t have the money & 2) He probably doesn’t want to jeopardize a potential VP position. Romney’s machine really has the upper hand even if Mitt has trouble getting solid approval ratings above the 20% – 30% range.

    1. I don’t disagree that Santorum has an uphill battle. Fundraising is going to improve, he’ll receive more attention during debates, media exposure, and he has a Super PAC supporting him as well.

      He won’t be able to match Romney dollar for dollar, but he may be able to do just enough.

    2. The GOP establishment reminds me of these big bullies.   They huff and puff, but when you actually challenge them, often you learn that they’re not as strong as they think they are.  Of course, he is a formidable opponent, but consider how R-money’s cash has underperformed up to this point.  I think he’s going to become complacent (if he’s not already), and pride goes before a fall.  And one more platitude:  The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  🙂  

      Hopefully in just a few weeks, Mitt will wake up and smell the upset.  LOL.

  4. For one possible scenario on how Santorum could win the nomination, please check out the article “Road to Victory 2012: How Rick Santorum Can Win the Nomination by Super Tuesday” on the RedState Web site.

    Excerpt:

    In case you’re not aware, in the closest vote in Iowa Caucus history, Mitt Romney beat out Rick Santorum by 8 votes. One week ago, Santorum was in the single digits. Considering his strong showing in IA and Conservative desperation to support a formidable alternative to Romney, the money and poll numbers will start flowing Santorum’s way. Bachmann’s departure will most assuredly help Santorum more than anyone else. People are skeptical that Santorum can make it. I’m optimistic that he can. Here’s how I think Santorum could wrap up the nomination battle by Super Tuesday.

    New Hampshire(1/10/12): Santorum’s got no shot at winning here. The best he can shoot for is third place. One thing that could really hurt Mitt Romney is Newt Gingrich’s attacks on him going into NH. Gingrich may not reasonate, but his attacks just might. If some of those attacks stick, we could be looking at either a narrow Romney victory over Ron Paul or an outright defeat of Romney. I currently think Romney will win with 34%, versus Paul’s 29%, Santorum’s 19%, Jon Huntsman Jr’s 9%, Gingrich’s 6%, and Rick Perry’s 3%. Huntsman would drop out and endorse Romney, but seeing how thin Huntsman’s support is, I don’t see how that particularly helps Romney.

    South Carolina(1/21/12): This will be the big fight. A make or break moment for Santorum, and Perry’s last stand. Santorum must unify the Evangelical vote behind him in order to win. Romney only needs a Perry/Santorum split to win. I see Santorum unifying the Evangelicals(who will realize soon enough that Perry is doomed) and winning SC with 44%, versus Romney’s 28%, Gingrich’s 15%, Perry’s 9%, and Paul’s 4%. Perry would drop out and, like Bachmann, not endorse anybody, and his voters would largely go to Santorum, with the rest going to Gingrich.

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