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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Sweeping Up After Iowa

I'm tempted to say that the big winner in last night's Iowa caucuses was not-Romney. Newt Gingrich -- the old not-Romney -- got 16,251 votes. Rick Santorum -- the new not-Romney -- pulled in 30,007. Mitt Romney barely won, with 30,015 (we won't include Ron Paul as a not-Romney, because Paul voters were almost certainly voting for Paul, not against Romney). It's probably too simplistic to say that, had there been a single not-Romney, he would've won with by 16,000 or better, but I don't think Mittens would've won. I doubt anyone on Team Romney is feeling extremely triumphant today. The phrase of the day is probably "a win is a win." They're probably right. The Iowa caucuses aren't even representative of Iowa.

A few other observations from around the web:

Michael Li: Wow. Paid media $/vote so far: Santorum $1.65, Bachmann $8, Romney $113.07, Gingrich $139 Paul $227, Perry $817. [Numbers calculated last night with about 80% of the vote in]

Associated Press: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has won most of the delegates in the Iowa Republican caucuses, edging former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Romney won a projected 13 delegates and Santorum won 12. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was shut out.

Paul Begala: The Romney-inevitability stories will now be tempered by chin-stroking about the candidate's weakness. He is basically tied with a guy who supports banning contraception and another guy who attacks the 1964 Civil Rights Act. If Mitt Romney can't beat them, he ought to find another party to run in.


Wonkette headline: "Romney Beats Santorum By Just 0.000002667% of U.S. Population."

Dave Weigel: Four years ago, a depressed GOP went to the precinct caucuses, very well aware that Democrats had all the energy. The total GOP vote: 119,188. This year, Republicans should be psyched about the chance to uproot Barack Obama. There will be something above 122,000 total votes. An improvement, right? Well... in 2008, 86 percent of the people who chose the GOP caucuses were Republicans. This year, 75 percent of the electorate was Republican, with the rest of the vote coming from independents and Democrats. What the hell happened?

John Dickerson: As if to solidify Romney's position as the candidate the base isn't excited about, shortly before the final votes were counted Ben Smith reported that John McCain would endorse Romney. McCain, too, had trouble firing up GOP voters.

Josh Marshall: Going into tonight the idea was that Romney could come in first, second or maybe even third and still ‘win’. There was a decent logic to that. But as I hear the conventional wisdom taking shape, the result in practice (which could still quite likely be a numerical victory for Romney) seems considerably worse for Romney than one might have expected. It feels like a significant setback. In the big picture, still very hard to see how someone else gets the nomination. But a tie for first, which seemed like it would be still pretty good for Romney, doesn’t look so good in the event.

Steve Benen: Time will tell where Bachmann’s remaining supporters go, but it’s unlikely they’ll gravitate towards Mitt Romney. Indeed, the fact that the GOP field is shrinking at all is not what Romney wants to see. As we discussed earlier, because the former governor’s support in his party is so limited, Romney benefits greatly from as large a field as possible — the more the anti-Romney vote is divided among many candidates, the easier it is for him.

Right Wing Watch headline: "Religious Right Leaders to Meet and Plot Strategy on How to Stop Romney."


Not sure what to add after all that, other than to say I'm less inclined to think the Iowa caucuses were meaningless than I was before. If there had been a clear winner, I think I'd feel safer in making that assertion. But given that it was basically a tie, I think the least we can take out of it is that the search for a viable not-Romney is still on and the GOP primary is very much in flux.


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