Image via WikipediaLast night at about 10pm, I turned on the Fox News Channel to see if I could catch the results of the Iowa Republican caucus. At that time, in the early stages of tabulating the results, it was a three way tie between Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul with each having 23% of the votes. I went to sleep shortly thereafter and Santorum and Romney had opened up a slight lead over Paul with each having 24% and Paul 22%.
It looked like it was going to be a long night, and I figured I would just catch the results in the morning. Of course, as happens most nights, I woke up in the middle of the night, right around 2:30am. I was having a little trouble getting back to sleep, so I flipped the television back on just in time to hear them announce that Romney won the Iowa caucus over Rick Santorum by a mere 8 votes.
Historically, the winner of the Iowa caucus is not necessarily an indicator of who will eventually win the Republican nomination for President. In 2008. the winner of the caucus was Mike Huckabee. The eventual nominee, John McCain, finished 4th in that year's caucus. So while it was good for Romney to win, it really doesn't mean a whole lot. The one thing the caucus is good for is weeding out some of the also rans.
The first casualty of the night appeared to be Rick Perry. After his 5th place finish last night with 10% of the votes, Perry announced that he was going to head back to Texas to "reassess" his candidacy. However, earlier today he announced that he would be continuing with his campaign. I can't help but wonder if his decision was based in part on the announcement of the 6th place finisher.
Michele Bachmann finished in 6th place last night with 5% of the votes. Initially, during her concession speech in Iowa announced that she was going forward with her campaign because she felt she was the conservative that could beat Barack Obama. I thought that she must be slightly delusional if she believed that. This morning, she cancelled her campaign appearances and announced that she was suspending her campaign.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich finished 4th with 13% of the votes. Two weeks ago, Gingrich was sitting solidly in the lead in the polls but faced a barrage of negative attack ads from the Romney and Paul camps that caused a steady drop in the polls. Gingrich had been maintaining a positive campaign but the sting of the attack ads was obvious as he sounded angry after the caucus.
Clearly, Gingrich blames the Romney camp for his fall and says he needs to figure out a better way to handle the attack ads. While not a direct quote, Gingrich has said that the gloves are off. While he will not do negative attack ads, he says he reserves the right to tell the truth and sometimes the truth can sound negative. Sounds like payback time to me.
The big winner of the night has to be Rick Santorum. A few weeks ago, Santorum was on nobody's radar, languishing in single digits in the polls. He did an all out blitz in the state to pull a major surprise. Now it remains to be seen if he can keep that momentum going. One thing for sure is that he is now bound to be in the sights of Romney and his surrogates. Look for the attacks to begin.
I don't really have a lot to say about the others. Paul finished 3rd with 21% of the votes. He has a core group of supporters and most feel he has no chance to get the nomination. Romney can't seem to get beyond having the support of 25% of Republicans. Jon Huntsman was a non factor with less than 1% of the votes. It could be a long campaign.