It was an interesting night in my home state of Iowa last night.  In the Republican caucus, Mitt Romney eked out an eight vote win over Rick Santorum.  The order of finish was:

  1. Romney
  2. Santorum
  3. Paul
  4. Gingrich
  5. Perry
  6. Bachmann
  7. Huntsman
  8. Cain

I correctly predicted the 1-6 order of finish yesterday on another site of mine, Donkey and Elephant Show (I didn’t bother including Huntsman and Cain, as it was apparent that they would do very poorly).

Romney, Paul, and Santorum each had more than 20% of the vote and emerge as the front-runners.  Huntsman decided to skip Iowa entirely and focus on New Hampshire.  This ensured him of a poor showing in Iowa, but might endear him to the voters of New Hampshire.

Perry’s going home to think about things and figure out if there is a path forward.  Considering the fact that he made a huge media buy in Iowa and still couldn’t crack the top 4, I’m guessing that there’s not a path forward.

Michele Bachmann seems willing to hang in for a bit longer.  I don’t see how she’s a viable candidate.  She represents a neighboring state (Minnesota) in congress, was born in Iowa, won the Ames Straw poll, spent a ton of time in the state over the past fews months, and despite all these advantages, still managed just 5% of the vote.

Many observers felt that Santorum picked up support from the anybody-but-Romney crowd.  He doesn’t have a lot of money, and it will be interesting to see if he can raise funds to be competitive in other states.  It will also be interesting to see if he can weather the storm of attack ads that is sure to be coming.  He peaked so late in Iowa that he wasn’t the target of many attack ads.

I’m sure that Paul’s third place finish comes as a shock to many of his supporters.  Crunchy had her own predictions on Yahoo yesterday, and one commenter left this doozy of a response (excerpt)

only about 90% of those who post comments and rate them online support Ron Paul. Romney is met with disdain and Santorum, derision. While the demographics are no doubt skewed here towards thinking people as opposed to sheeple, you can’t change 90% into third place without fixing it

Unfortunately, the number of vocal online supporters a candidate has doesn’t necessarily translate into the number of voters they will get.  While it’s important to have devoted followers, they are only one part of the mix.  You also need to get votes from people who silently support a candidate – the silent majority.

What should we expect in New Hampshire?  It’s probably that Romney will pickup a win in his back yard, but it’s possible that Huntsman could pull off  a surprise.  However, if some members of the GOP are unwilling to vote for Romney because he’s a Mormon,  then a protest vote for Hunstman wouldn’t make much sense, since he’s also Mormon. 

If Romney can consistently finish in the top 2 in the next batch of primaries and have his opponents split the time in the other spot, he should be in good shape for the nomination.  A large field works in Romney’s interest, and it splinters the anti-Romney vote in a few directions and makes it harder for any one candidate to surpass his vote total.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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