All day today I’ll be pseudo live blogging about the Iowa Caucuses and the GOP 2012 nomination in general. All times are EST.
2:37 – Romney wins. Changes little, but makes my prediction picture perfect, so I’m happy about that. Good night!
2:10 – Twitter is ablaze with reports about a 14 point margin in favor of Romney. 2500 words later and we still do not have a winner of Iowa. A couple things I’m going to sleep thinking about tonight
- According to the media, Romney’s rise in Iowa is almost entirely overshadowed by Santorum’s, but this isn’t really true. Up until very recently, expectations for Romney’s performance in Iowa did not include a first/second place finish. Now that he has that finish Romney will have solidified his place as the presumptive nominee in real terms. If he can take New Hampshire the election is over. Either way, this has very much become Romney’s election to lose.
- The bounces we have seen in polls are real shifts in attitudes that have electoral significance.
- Newt Gingrich was angry tonight and many in the media have concluded that this anger will result in him going after Romney guns blazing with reckless abandon. However, I think he may “reassess” (the word of the night) what happened in Iowa and take a more strategic approach. Too soon to tell.
- The Rick Santorum bounce has occurred. In the following weeks one ought to expect him to be closely analyzed, picked apart and throughly attacked by the media. At this early point I do not believe he will be able to gain the same explosive support in New Hampshire that he received in Iowa.
- Perry’s fundraising was second only to Romney but now he’s all but out of the race. If he officially leaves well before New Hampshire and throws his weight behind eiher Gingrich or Santorum something big might happen. Currently, both have raised relatively paltry amounts.
- Journalists get pretty loopy after 1:30 am.
1:30 - Eerie silence as people wait on a final tally.
12:35 – 99% in and there is a 5 vote difference. To quote The Fix’s Chris Cillizza – “Holy crapozoli.” Everyone, including me, is impressed by Santorum’s speech. He knows this is his biggest opportunity to grab hold of momentum. I’m not convinced this will permanently launch him into the top tier as is being suggested by some of the pundits.
12:20 - Santorum’s “Thank you so much Iowa” sounded like a movie trailer narration. Rewind and watch it again. Next on the teleprompter – “in a world, where Barack Obama is President…”
12:05 – Nathan – I’m giving up on this. I call a tie between Santorum and Romney. The guy who was too lazy to go to the caucus today will feel like crap for the rest of his life.
12:00 - I was wrong. It’s midnight and we do not have a winner. It sounds like Rick Perry is dropping out. He would gain some respect from me if he did.
11:35 - We are yet to have a winner, but there are still some real take aways from tonight. In his concession speech, Gingrich declared war on Romney. Every cable news channel is talking about the full page ad that Gingrich is taking out against Romney. I agree with a lot of what the talking heads are saying about this. A “kamikaze” attack by Gingrich on Romney could be super effective, if only because of Gingrich’s really strong ability to go negative on substantive issues. And, his ability to go negative on personal issues and make them sound substantive.
In other news, Bret Baier can’t use an Ipad calculator to do subtraction.
Also, I have no idea what Bachmann’s speech is about. For some reason, it is not about dropping out.
11:00 – CNN is now projecting all but the winner of the Iowa Caucuses.
1st and 2nd – Romney or Santorum
3rd – Ron Paul
4th – Newt Gingrich
5th – Rick Perry
6th- Michelle Bachmann
7th – John Huntsman
These results currently perfectly reflect the most recent polls done in the state and, I might add, my prediction. The difference between Romney and Santorum is making pundits lose their minds. We can now expect to hear from candidates.
10:55 - NBC has just projected that Ron Paul will take 3rd place and the the race for the number one position will be between Romney and Santorum. Looks like the numbers are coming in quicker the many expected. At this rate we should have a winner well before midnight. And then a recount. (EDIT: My understanding now is that there will be NO recount)
10:20 - Nathan - Here you go folks: Rick Santorum is benefiting from a short window of opportunity when it comes to searching “santorum” on Google and not having spreadingsantorum.com popping up as the first result. Instead, Google is displaying the results to the Iowa Caucus..
10:15 - Right now the big story is the dead heat between Romney, Paul and Santorum. Some speculation that it will take all the ballots being counted before a winner is declared. The other story is that Bachmann placed as poorly as expected. The thing I’m paying attention to is the different talking heads and their willingness to make wild conclusions extrapolated from partial election results. As cable news outlets try to report new information I suspect that speculation will grow more wild.
Rick Perry just spoke to Fox News about the results with a pretty lack luster opening line – “everything is fine.” There’s a lot of pain in those eyes.
If you want to see how democrats are interpreting the results turn to MSNBC. Surprise, they seem to be dissatisfied with the messaging of the Republicans.
9:40 - Nathan - The Fox News “decision desk” has projected Michele Bachmann to be the loser of the Iowa Caucus and HuffingtonPost is now reporting that Bachmann’s own staff is about to tell her to quit. The Republicans might not be happy about the evangelical/libertarian/ neoconservative rift that is currently forming, but at least they can now take solace in the fact that the Republican party is still the party of old white men.
9:10 - Fox News is projecting that Bachmann places in 6th place after Huntsman. A quick look at the visual messaging being used by each candidate at their respective HQ’s lecterns show an interesting distinction between Romney and the others.
8:45 - The first results are out. It seems that Politico’s site is a bit slow at updating, but Google is fast enough. Right now, the initial results are entirely meaningless. Yet, most media outlets need stuff to talk about so they are reporting on individual counties and other stuff everyone will forget tomorrow.
8:30 - The first round of entrance polls are out. While the results are not to be taken at face value, they are not completely without meaning. For instance, polls are showing a three way race Paul, Santorum and Romney. Unsurprising, but a good sign for Santorum as it demonstrates that his lack of organization on the ground may not actually be hampering his performance. These polls are generally skewed by campaign organizers putting vocal supporters into caucus locations so that they are questioned first.
As the night goes on the later entrance polls will give us a better idea of what is going on.
8:00 - Caucuses should be starting. If you like, you can follow the results on your own, I suggest Google or Politico. As results come in and Bachmann, Gingrich and Perry begin their damage control consider that no candidate since the 80s has won South Carolina after losing both Iowa and New Hampshire.
7:00 - Doors open in Iowa at 8pm. In anticipation of the results, here is my prediction:
Romney, Santorum, Paul, Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Huntsman
The surprise here being that Santorum defies current polling, which has him trailing Paul by 5-7 points. For other predictions check out ABC’s staff “crystal ball.” One might notice that my prediction perfectly mirrors ABC’s Amy Walter’s prediction.
6:45 - Say what you will about Gingrich, but he often has the unique ability to make profound, pointed and entirely accurate statements. After calling Romney a liar, Gingrich said to CBS (via the Fix),
Well, you seem shocked by it!” Gingrich exclaimed. “Which part of what I just said to you is false? Why is it that if I’m candid in person and I wanted to be honest in person, that’s shocking … why is it politically incorrect to tell the truth?’
Without commenting on the “truthiness” of Romney, I think what Gringrich has said this morning is an excellent point that needs to be made. The evidence of the media being shocked and almost professionally offended by those who call a spade a spade is especially prevalent today. For instance, Ron Paul made big headlines when he admitted that he is a “long shot” candidate. Despite this fact being obvious to everyone, the obvious headline is that he is not delusionally optimistic about his chances to win. It should be radical and bizarre for media to report on someone stating the obvious as an extraordinary development. Are we so far gone that we expect presidential candidates to lie about patently obvious things, even if the truth may not be friendly to them?
6:35 - Nathan - Just noticed this: the Obama Campaign team has bought out three sides of the Des Moines Register website.
6:10 - Nathan – Talking Points Memo notes that Herman Cain and Donald Trump will be commentating on Fox News this evening. Can’t wait to hear “expert” analysis from the two most inconsequential figures of the 2012 nomination! Maybe Newt Gingrich will drop out of the race halfway through the night and join them on the Fox News payroll…
5:30 – I have long held the opinion that Iowa lacks the importance that some might assume it has because of the widespread media coverage. However, as I have said in the past, it may very well act as a harbinger of death for some campaigns which are lagging. Two campaigns in particular are facing the executioner today: Bachmann and Perry.
Bachmann has long retained the majority of her support as a tea party darling, scooping up those who were turned on by the Sarah Palin aura. She was a strong, conservative and decisive woman who had not yet been beaten down by the media. And then she was beaten down by the media. That is not to say that she did not deserve it. Like Perry, most of her problems where her own – she made embarrassingly false statements and lost many key staffers. Perry’s fall was much sharper and painful to watch. His “oops” will forever been one of the worst moments in debate history.
For both candidates, Iowa has long been a must win. Perry’s camp has strategized accordingly, spending more money in Iowa than any other campaign. Bachmann, on the other hand, has spent the least. This is likely because she has much less than other candidates (less than half of what Perry has) and because she care mores about having a national showing than actually winning. Yet, both of them are polling Iowa worse than every other candidate except for Huntsman, whom has skipped Iowa. For both candidates, losing Iowa will be an official end of any hope for their campaigns. The question will be whether they drop out and endorse anyone or not.
1. While Iowa “looks like” the overall american population, the political makeup of caucus goers is decidedly “evangelical” and “conservative,” not moderate. But this isn’t really important, because everyone pretty much agrees that Iowa in no way “anoints” winners. It’s just another state that happens to be first.
2. I think Yespen is right about this. Retail politics has been redefined. The term “retail politics” was generally used to describe old methods of campaigning in which different coalitions were courted by personal appeals by candidates. Blacks, women, unions, etc. all had their representative political machine that would ultimately strongly side with one candidate or another. People are largely more independent of these organizations, but personal appearances are still valued greatly. The new “retail” politics is simply anything that actually involves a direct connection to the candidate, like “tele-town halls,” during which candidates hold a town hall like discussion over a conference call.
3. A little over 110k voted last time, so things like rides to polls are going to be significant. However, we will see just how significant – Santorum apparently has a skeleton operation in Iowa.
4. Its conventional wisdom that weather affects all elections, but probably not any more so in Iowa.
5. It often appears that Iowans, or caucus goers in general, take voting more seriously than other people. The caucus system is a more involved process than simple ballot casting. Iowa, in particular, gets a lot of attention, which attracts attention loving people who want to seem really concerned. Really, any caucus system, not just Iowa, probably results in more “serious” voters.
Like many myths, these myths contain both exaggerations and grains of truth.
2:00 – I’ve been paying close attention to Ron Paul for the last couple of weeks. Since the media has gone Iowa intensive and most of the candidates have shifted their focus to Iowa, Paul’s strength there has changed the entire dynamic that Paul has historically had in elections. Typically, one would expect him bomb throw in debates, complain about lack of media attention and comfortably take 2-5%. Paul and supporters alike would be fine with the outcome, as his explicit objective was not winning elections. This time around the it is still entirely improbable that Paul is the nominee, but is now a potential threat to other candidates in important states – such as Iowa.
Instead of being ignored, Paul now find himself the target of attacks from those he most directly threatens. Both Gingrich and Santorum (today) have hurled very strong attacks against him. Accusations about racism have also cropped up once again and recently garnered a good deal of media attention.
Gingrich, Santorum and Perry all know the same thing about Paul. If they are placed in the same political league as him they might as well go home. They dont even want to engage him in debate, never mind battle him for votes. One of the most important results of today may very well be how much electoral legitimacy Paul gains from winning or placing highly in Iowa.
1:15 - This morning started with big hits coming from all over. Newt Gingrich continued to break his pledge to stay positive by calling Mitt Romney a liar. Santorum attacked one his main competitors today, Ron Paul, by calling him “disgusting.” I suspect that these attacks are signs of frustration from candidates, rather than strategically planned negative hits. Plain name calling this late in the game will likely have no meaningful impact.
Today essentially comes down to a race between Romney, Santorum and Paul. Gingrich has basically conceded defeat in Iowa. While Gingrich will probably stay in the race afterwards, finishing after Romney in Iowa will be horrible for his larger prospects.