Mitt Romney won the Republican Caucus by 8 votes over Rick Santorum. They both got just under 25% of the vote followed closely by Ron Paul. You can read this as 75% of the vote went to other Republicans with the two closest rivals representing extreme positions. Two interesting comments I heard on the MSNBC coverage last night. First, former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts noted that he thinks Mitt’s 25% is about what his support is. Not clear if he was talking about Iowa or generally amoung Republicans. Second, Rev. Al Sharpton who hoped that Santorum and/or Paul stayed in the race for a while so that Mitt had to keep moving right to get the nomination.
Robert Creamer writes in the Huffington Post today that the Iowa was bad news for the Republican establishment which just wants to nominate Mitt and be done with it.
To maximize their odds of reclaiming their hold on the White House, the Republican establishment believes they need two things:
• To nominate Mitt Romney;
• To effectively end the Republican nominating process as soon as possible.
Last night’s results from Iowa lower the odds they will get either.
In fact, what we saw in Iowa last night was the Republican base gagging on the presidential candidate the Republican establishment is trying desperately to cram down their throats.
The problem is that Mitt is not good at displaying human qualities. Brian McGrory wrote in his column in today’s Boston Globe
For not foreseeing his rise from the State House to, potentially, the White House, I shouldn’t, in truth, be so hard on myself. Romney has made a habit of getting in his own way.
First, there was the small matter of that gubernatorial campaign. His very best day was the one right before he declared. On the stump, he was, in a word, terrible – hollow and plastic in speeches and mannerisms. “How are you?’’ he would repeatedly ask, never waiting for a response.
There was one October campaign swing through Boston’s North End with Rudy Giuliani when a burly laborer in a crowded Mike’s Pastry called out “Let me buy you guys a cannoli.’’ Brilliant, I thought. The cameras would capture Romney with ricotta cheese on his strong chin, a man of the people. Then Romney called back, “No thanks, got to run,’’ as he headed for the door. He said it with that nervous smile, which was still frozen on his face when Giuliani said to the guy “Let me buy you the cannoli!’’ The place erupted in cheers.
Mitt and the establishment have other problems. Like the fact that Rick Santorum was able to peak at the right time and become the anti-Mitt. Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul will also continue in the race.
All of which leads me to ask whether Obama actually won Iowa. He had some 25000 people show up to watch a live message, signed up over 7000 new volunteers and has 8 field offices open in Iowa. He had almost as many people at meaningless caucuses as Romney, Santorum and Paul each got as vote totals. Sure maybe people aren’t as excited as in 2008 and everyone – even supporters can name at least one thing he did they don’t like, but I’m with Rev. Al: Let this go on for a while and let Mitt move to the right. Then we shall see what the general election will bring. Even better the Republicans could nominate Santorum. Howard Fineman said in the Huffington Post late last night:
The final Iowa results aren’t in but we already know one big winner: President Barack Obama.
The dismal, nasty campaign here was not good for the Republican Party or the country. There was precious little debate on anything other than who literally was Holier than Thou; the dollars spent on attack ads were, vote for vote, enormous. One GOP top finisher is unpopular with the base; another is too far out of the mainstream to be nominated, let alone elected; the third lost his last Senate race, in Pennsylvania, by 17 points, and is far to the right of the country on social issues.
All of which is good news for a president with a 40 percent job approval rating and a desperate need for a weak opponent next November.
I’ll leave Richard Viguerie with the last word. In an interview today with the New York Times, Viguerie said
The conservative direct mail pioneer and activist Richard Viguerie predicted that the pack would continue to seek out a more ideologically pure standard-bearer this year than it did in accepting Senator John McCain as the Republican nominee in 2008.
“Romney has just seemed to have gone out of his way to try to get this nomination without giving conservatives anything, and that’s troubling to a lot of conservatives,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to go away quietly into that long dark nominating fight — I‘d be surprised if the conservatives didn’t mount a serious effort to derail Romney.”
On to New Hampshire!