Bleary-eyed from watching the Iowa caucuses last night. They started at 3:30am Israel time. C-SPAN carried the Urbandale caucus live, showing a bunch of people in a hall putting bits of paper in a hat, followed by the 300ish voted being counted and announced.
What happened next – when most people went home – means that Mitt Romney didn’t win Iowa.
Most states hold primary elections to select their delegates for the Republican National Convention in Tampa in 2012, which formally choose the Republican Party’s candidate for President. Some, like Iowa, hold caucuses.
Once, most primaries were “winner takes all”, meaning the whole state delegation would be allocated to supporters of whoever gets the most votes in the primary. Now, though, most Republican state parties (and all Democratic state parties) allocate their delegates based broadly on the proportion of votes per candidate, usually with a threshold – meaning that the candidate who comes second or third will still get delegates.
So in Iowa last night, Romney narrowly “won” the caucus beating Rick Santorum by only 8 votes. But Iowa’s delegates will be apportioned as follows:
Note that both Romney and Santorum get 11 delegates: a tie. Ron Paul, only 4% fewer votes than Romney and Santorum, takes a mere 3 delegates. Everyone else – Newt Gingrich with his 14%, Perry with 10 and Bachmann’s 6% – go home with nothing.
Rick Perry has gone back to Texas to “reassess” his campaign, which is politics-speak for “going to withdraw in the next two days”. There is pressure on Bachmann, who came sixth despite working Iowa for months, to do the same, clearing the field for Santorum to be the candidate of the Republican Religious Right.
update 13:30 GMT – Bachmann will make an “announcement” later today.
Romney will probably lead in New Hampshire on Sunday, but Santorum, with the backing of the Religious Right, could seriously challenge him in South Carolina, according to Republican pollster Frank Luntz.
A bigger challenge is Florida – it has 50 delegates in a winner-takes-all primary at the end of January, after South Carolina. Whoever wins Florida will likely be in a commanding position going into super Tuesday. Florida polling has been varied, with Perry and Cain both leading at one point and Gingrich being a close second to Romney in late December polling. Floridians could coalecse around Santorum as their Anyone But Romney candidate, especially if he puts in a good showing in South Carolina.
The Republican party is one step closer to nominating for President a man who looks like a cross between Alan Partridge and Bryn from Gavin and Stacy (see left), and whose name is a slang synonym for… well, for something unpleasant.
All of which means that Mitt Romney didn’t win anything in Iowa and his campaign is probably pretty nervous.