Out of all the possibilities, I don’t think anyone was expecting this to happen. Now that Iowa is over, we’ll see what happens next.
Santorum had to be the biggest surprise tonight, no question about it. He was at the very bottom for most of the race, but campaigned tirelessly in Iowa and as of the moment I’m writing this, he’s in first place, even if it’s by an extremely narrow margin. Even if it turns out that he’s in second, that’s still an astonishing leap from where he was just a couple of weeks ago. Let’s keep in mind that he managed to win in spite of the fact that he had very little money to buy airtime and his strategy of going out there and visiting every country was an enormous success.
The next couple of weeks will see if he can sustain his lead as the new anti-Romney candidate. He surged at just the right time, but it’s an open question as to whether or not he can keep it. We’ve seen one candidate surge and collapse. I guarantee the media is preparing a barrage against him, as are his fellow candidates.
Romney did about as well as I expected. He’s managed a very close second in what was probably the closest Iowa caucus in modern history. In over 4 years, he hasn’t managed to increase his supporters. That being said, he’s still in a strong position and much as I dislike him, I believe he’s the one that’s the most likely to become the nominee. He’s got the money and the organization. Next week in New Hampshire, he’ll almost certainly win the state.
However, as the republican field narrows down, he’s going to have a much harder time with his “divide and conquer” strategy. If the voters become concentrated, his 25% won’t be enough to guarantee him victory. When a couple of the Anti-Romney candidates drop out, I find it highly unlikely that they’ll go to him. Throughout the whole campaign, his support has been stuck.
Ron Paul has a small but very devoted group of followers, giving him third place in Iowa. As for his chances going forward, they’re all but nonexistent. The Iowa Caucuses only have about 120,000 people voting and his small groups would go through anything to vote for him.He’s got some good ideas on the economy, but his foreign policy is too far outside the mainstream and it’s going to turn most potential voters away from him.
Newt Gingrich is at a survivable fourth. Considering the massive barrage of negative ads hitting him, it wasn’t a bad turnout for him. I’ve noticed he’s abandoned the idea of not going after his fellow republicans and headed at full speed. He’s easily the most knowledgeable of them and a very skilled debater. This tells me that the economy is going to be the central issue, far ahead of social issues.
Even so, there are two crucial things he lacks to win in further states. Compared to many of the other candidates, he doesn’t have a whole lot of money, and even his surge didn’t give him the kind of funds that some of the other candidates have. He’s not completely broke, but 4th place isn’t enough to give him what he needs to win the nomination. An even more important trait he lacks is organization, which is absolutely crucial, especially when you start moving into the larger states.
In spite of spending over 4 million in campaign ads, Rick Perry has only managed to receive ten percent of the vote. I stated earlier that he needed to win at least fourth place to have enough momentum to continue. He started out strong, but he hasn’t managed to get much of his previous momentum back.
Not only that, but he’s gone to Texas to “reassess” his campaign. Strictly speaking, it’s a bad sign whenever a candidate speaks those words. I think he was expecting to do a lot better in Iowa than he actually did and the fact that he only got 5th was a bit of a shock.
Despite all the bad news, the race isn’t over yet. If he decides to continue and we’ll find out as things unfold, his only chance is to knock it out of the park in South Carolina. I read that his strategy was to skip New Hampshire and head to South Carolina. He’s still got enough money to continue the fight, his organization is getting better and I know a lot of people on Red State support him, but this is not something that you can put a positive spin on. My advice to him: focus on your job record. That’s your best chance.
Bachmann… she’s finished. There’s no other way to say it. She came in last place (not counting Huntsman), she’s out of money and it’s unlikely that many people will be donating to her. I fully expect her to withdraw in the near future.
In conclusion, it’s been an exciting race and gives us a good idea as to where the candidates are headed.