Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Iowa Caucus Disappoints

It looks like the only real winner in Iowa tonight is Rick Santorum, the candidate with the least money, a virtually non-existent campaign organization and a remarkably naive view of the world. He's sharing the top honors tonight with Mitt Romney with each getting about 25% of the vote. Presumably, the religious fanatics came out to support Santorum just like they did Mike Huckabee four years ago. A win or close second in Iowa does little to move Santorum's campaign forward. With no money and no campaign apparatus, he will likely fail to make the ballot or field delegate slates in some of the upcoming states. Only Romney, Paul and Perry have the money and organization it takes to run a national campaign. Even Perry failed to make the ballot in Virginia with plenty of money and a large campaign staff, and he finished a disappointing fifth tonight behind Gingrich's 13% share of the vote with only about 10% of the vote. Romney is doing no better in Iowa this year than he did four years ago when he lost to Huckabee after spending $10 million and receiving only a quarter of the vote. Paul improved his numbers substantially but finished a disappointing third place with about 22% of the vote.

The first primary in New Hampshire is just around the corner. Mitt Romney is way out front there according to the latest polls with Ron Paul in a distant second place. As happened to his campaign in Iowa, Gingrich's New Hampshire effort has collapsed even with the endorsement of the Manchester Union-Leader. Earlier polls showed Gingrich running well ahead in South Carolina and Florida, but his lead will most certainly dissipate rapidly in the coming weeks as he struggles to raise money and operate without a campaign organization. At least he has some staff. Santorum has virtually no staff to compete anywhere close to the level Huckabee competed in 2008. What this means is that the only alternative candidate that has both the money, organization and strength to go head-to-head with Romney is Ron Paul. The establishment Republican and media attacks on him have made it difficult for him to break out though.

After all of the bluster, Iowa produced only 25 delegates tonight. The New Hampshire primary produces even fewer delegates with only 16 at stake there. Thirty-one delegates are at stake in the South Carolina primary and 91 are at stake in Florida, which will be the real pivotal contests in the coming weeks. It takes 1,245 delegates to win the nomination. Reading the tea leaves, it's probably a pretty safe bet that this race will be over after Florida with Romney the overwhelming favorite to win the race. Bachman is probably out after tonight. Gingrich will be through after a dismal showing in New Hampshire. Perry will hang on until at least South Carolina in hopes of picking up Gingrich's support, but I have my doubts he can get his act together to mount a credible campaign. Santorum's fifteen minutes of fame end tonight in Iowa. Paul will stay in the race for the long haul. He'll have a chance to shine when he gets to the point of going head-to-head with Romney, but it will probably be too little too late.

UPDATE: The final vote count show Mitt Romney a winner by a mere 8 votes out of more than 122,000 votes cast. Bachmann has scheduled a press conference for later this morning where she is expected to announce she is dropping out of the race. Rick Perry has returned to Texas to reconsider whether he should move ahead. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum is looking like the dog who chased a car he didn't expect to catch and then didn't know what to do with it when he got his teeth snagged in the bumper.

1 comment:

Marycatherine Barton said...

An additional view is that of Brad Funkhouser, "Grand Theft Iowa?", posted at Lew Rockwell.com 1/3/12. At this moment, I am unsure of the correct answer to that question, but am eager for more information and analysis.