Here are the Iowa Caucus results with 100% counted:
The Iowa Caucus does get the ball rolling in determining which candidates will win how many of Iowa’s 28 delegates to the GOP Convention in Florida later this summer. Iowa’s 28 delegates make up just 1.2% of the 2,286 Republican delegates who will vote for their nominee and are allocated on a proportional basis.
With Romney’s victory last night, he continues to show that he is the only Republican candidate that can withstand the roller coaster nature that is defining this primary season. With very little campaigning in Iowa or staff structure, Romney was able to withstand the enormous efforts put forth by Santorum, Perry, Gingrich and the rest of the field. At this point, Romney is the clear front runner. However, it is not until the March 6 primaries in eleven states that there is a winner-takes-all primary that is not being penalized by the Republican National Committee. The road to the nomination, at least mathematically, will not be decided for some time still.
In a similar fashion to the 2008 presidential contest where Barack Obama would win only a small number of higher populated counties, Mitt Romney won a smaller number of counties, but they were counties with a larger number of caucus voters. Rick Santorum’s performance was impressive and surprised nearly everyone. His hard work at retail politics paid off for his underfunded, understaffed effort. To give you a comparison, Santorum spent on paid media $1.65 per vote compared to $113 per vote for Romney. To prove he is a viable candidate, Santorum will have to quickly raise money and build a campaign infrastructure in the nine states that remain before leap day – NH, SC, FL, ME, NV, CO, MN, AZ and MI.
With one state in the books, here is a status update for each presidential candidate following the Iowa Caucus (in reverse order of finish):
- Jon Huntsman – Will not be receiving the keys to any city in Iowa with his message to the Iowa winner regarding the Caucus, “Welcome to New Hampshire. Nobody Cares (about Iowa).” Huntsman skipped Iowa, so he receives a pass for now, but he has enormous pressure to perform well in the New Hampshire primary or his campaign is over.
- Michelle Bachmann – Won the August 13, 2011 Ames Straw Poll, but placed a disappointing 5th (and avoided 6th place by three votes) in her home county in Iowa on her way to finishing last of the six main contenders. While she may continue to campaign and soldier on, her 2012 presidential bid is done.
- Rick Perry – Stated in his speech following the Iowa Caucus that he would be returning to Texas to reassess his campaign. In short, Perry is out. Conventional wisdom holds – you can’t win debates, but you sure can lose them and the race as a result of a poor debate.
- Newt Gingrich – Looked like he was a new candidate until the weekend before the Iowa Caucus and simply tailed off at the end. His post Caucus speech where he zinged Romney and Paul will not go over well and he clearly is looking for an ugly fight in the New Hampshire debates. He has bounced back far too many times to count him out this early, but he is quickly running out of political lives.
- Ron Paul – A good performance, but needed a top two finish to continue to build momentum. Paul is doing well with younger voters and with independents. Look for him to do better in states that fit this profile.
- Rick Santorum – Has not yet been seriously challenged on the debate stage, airwaves or by the media. That will change over the next week. Will he turn into a viable candidate or will he fade due to a lack of money and organization?
- Mitt Romney – The race evolves each time a candidate drops out and a top priority for Romney must be to show that he can pick up the support voters showed to his former challengers. Romney did not go all out in Iowa, is expected to win comfortably in New Hampshire, but could face a tough time in South Carolina. Candidates will become much more aggressive in challenging Romney in the next few states since they recognize they cannot afford to let Romney string together a perfect record in January and expect to beat him.
- Barack Obama – The incumbent’s campaign is clearly focusing more effort in going after the one candidate they are most concerned about – Mitt Romney. The President’s campaign is also focused on builder an even stronger grassroots army than he had in 2008. Even in the face of bad economic numbers, this will be a well run, difficult to beat campaign organization. Beatable, but it will be a tough challenge for the eventual GOP nominee.