Hello Iowa..

So today is the Republican Iowa caucus.

The master of US Psephology is Nate Silver (from Wiki) of the wonderful FiveThirtyEight.com.

He think’s it’s tight between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, with Rick Santorum slightly behind but with a bit of momentum.

It’s worth a look at the caucus process. From the IOWA GOP site we get:

First, the Presidential Poll is taken. At the beginning of your precinct caucus meeting, the Caucus Chairman will call for the Presidential Preference Poll. Any Presidential candidate or candidate representative will be given the floor to speak on behalf of his or her candidate, and then ballots will be passed out for the poll. You can write your preference on the ballot and the results will be reported to both the precinct caucus and the national media.

And from Wiki

In the Republican caucuses, each voter officially casts his or her vote by secret ballot. Voters are presented blank sheets of paper with no candidate names on them. After listening to some campaigning for each candidate by caucus participants, they write their choices down and the Republican Party of Iowa tabulates the results at each precinct and transmits them to the media.In 2008, some precincts used a show of hands or preprinted ballots.The non-binding results are tabulated and reported to the state party, which releases the results to the media. Delegates from the precinct caucuses go on to the county conventions, which choose delegates to the district conventions, which in turn selects delegates to the Iowa State Convention. Thus, it is the Republican Iowa State Convention, not the precinct caucuses, which selects the ultimate delegates from Iowa to the Republican National Convention. All delegates are officially unbound from the results of the precinct caucus, although media organizations either estimate delegate numbers by estimating county convention results or simply divide them proportionally.

My money’s on Romney….in Iowa anyway….

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  • The polls in Iowa have been extremely volatile and it is difficult to predict who will win. While Romney is the favourite I am not convinced he will win.
    If he does and obtain more than 25% of the vote he would be a very hot favourite to win the Republican nomination.
    Iowa is not good territory for Romney as he did not win in2008 despite being favourite. More than half the Republican electorate in Iowa is Christian conservative and is unwilling to support a moderate who is also a Mormon.
    Ron Paula libertarian has strong support and should poll about 20% but the remainder of the conservative electorate have spent the past year trying to unite around an agreed anybody but Romney (ABR).Over recent months a succession of conservatives have headed the polls (Bachmann Perry Cain Gingrich) only to fall away when their weaknesses became apparent when subject to public examination.
    The latest ABR candidate is former Pennsylvanian Senator Rick Santorum who is making a late surge and has strong conservative credentials. I believe he may defeat Romney.
    If Romney does win Iowa he will head to New Hampshire next week and is certain to win easily. This will give him the momentum which will almost certainly give him the Republican nomination.

  • tuatha

    My New Year wish would be a Bachmann/Palin ticket, to ensure lots of laughs and Obama’s return.
    Given that both of them bother/terrify all but the craziest of Repugs then I’ll gladly settle for Paul/Gingrich – ‘feel the tension, man wotta ride.., with apologies to Hot Rod Lincoln.

  • Dewi

    http://www.google.com/elections/ed/us/results
    Nice from Google.Really tight so far.

  • Dewi

    Looks incredibly close – Paul beating Romney in Des Moines, Santorum in the West…but Romney coming second a lot. Nothing in it.

  • Dewi

    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/

    Probably closest to the ground – the Des Moines Register – maybe leaning Santorum? They are counting who are turing up for the after count parties…..

  • ITS going to be very close but I still think Santorum can make it and make the Republican nomination more interesting

  • Dewi

    Yep Brian – looks like Santorum.

  • Dewi Im going to bed but I suspect given the location of the precincts still to report Romney may just scrape it but even if he does it is clear that a ;arge number of Conservative right do not want him as Republican nominee.

  • Dewi

    Romney by maybe 27…

  • Dewi

    …or Santorum by 16, Whatever – call it a draw.Good Night.

  • Drumlins Rock

    So any reports of dodgey ballots or caucus polls staying open? Turns out to be a Fermanagh South Tyrone result. Has confirmed the 4 horse race status, with Perry out of the race more or less, and surely Bachman will follow eventually, both of whom will probably boost Santorum. New Hampshire will be a focus on second and third, with Gingrich the most exposed. Ron Paul is probably the most concerned this morining.

  • In another sense, one winner was the ineffable Michele Bachmann.

    Try this comparison graphic.

    Moreover, that appears to be only the expenditure directly by the candidates. On top of that would be the huge output, largely in attack ads, by the Super PACs, or, via a nice gloss by the Hollywood Reporter, —

    Veteran political analysts and operatives say Iowa has been the Spanish Civil War of presidential campaigns—a local testing ground for new technologies of conflict whose outcome forecasts a bitter and bloody struggle ahead in the general election.
    “What December taught us is that the Republicans will have access to tens of millions of dollars and they will aggressively put that money to work,” said Bill Burton, a former Obama aide who co-founded the Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA. He added: “With their support from hedge funds and oil companies, there is not any limit to the money they can spend.”

    Anyone know who originated the expression, “the best politics money can buy”?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Malcolm, think that showed Michele wasn’t even trying in Iowa, but blows the myth the Romney didn’t really care about Iowa . For Santorum to almost win on a fraction of the spend of the others in a way contradicts the idea votes are “bought”, but I suspect his spending power will rise after this!

  • Rory Carr

    Bye, bye, Michele:

    Breaking News Alert
    The New York Times
    Wednesday, January 4, 2012 — 11:33 AM EST
    —–

    Representative Michele Bachmann Leaves Race

    Mrs. Bachmann said Wednesday that she would not continue her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

    I have decided to stand aside,” Mrs. Bachmann said at a news conference in West Des Moines.

    Of the six candidates who seriously competed in the Iowa caucus, Mrs. Bachmann came in last, winning only 5 percent of the vote.

    Read More:
    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/04/bachmann-says-she-will-not-continue-in-the-race/?emc=na

  • Conclusions from Iowa
    Romney got fewer votes than in 2008-Still not accepted by many conservative Republicans
    Santorum (as predicted) has become established as leading anybody but Romney candidate (ABR)
    Many of the social conservatives have deserted previous front runners Bachmann and Perry (for Santorum) who are now likely to drop out
    Next week New Hampshire
    Romney to win easily but
    Will Santorum be strengthened as social conservatives unite behind him?
    Will Santorum be able to deal with negative publicity to which he has not yet been subjected as he was not previously considered a credible candidate?
    What impact will the candidacy of Huntsman have? He ignored Iowa and focused all his resources in New Hampshire?
    Can Gingrich get a credible vote to enable him to continue to South Carolina and Florida where the polls still show him in the lead?

  • Drumlins Rock @ 12:24 pm:

    Michele wasn’t even trying in Iowa. Perhaps, but I sat in the Gallery of the House of Representative about six weeks back, watching what I was assured to be a key vote in the ever-ongoing budget shenanigans. Two voting lights, whose identification I particularly recognised, didn’t show: Gabrielle Giffords and Michele Bachmann. I think Mrs Bachmann, then, hadn’t given up hope.

    Meanwhile, from “W.W.” posting for the Economist blog:

    For all practical purposes, the result in Iowa is a tie between the well-organised Mr Romney and the hard-working Mr Santorum, whose non-Romney bounce couldn’t have been better timed. Mr Santorum shot up the polls over the holidays, just a bit too late to put him in the way of the sort of negative ads that annihilated Newt Gingrich’s chances. This isn’t to detract from the heroic effort Mr Santorum threw into his Iowa campaign. As he showed in his quasi-victory speech, he is a talented campaigner capable of connecting emotionally with conservatives in a way no other Republican candidate can seem to manage. Despite the fact he often comes off a dour, truculent, moralising scold, Mr Santorum can tell a story with a certain charm. That, I think, makes it a real race.

    This Democrat-leaning alien reckons the show goes on for a while longer; and (had he a vote) his man ain’t too uncomfortable about the flesh-tearing going on among his potential rivals.

    Seriously: does anyone with half a smidgeon of political nous reckon on “selling” the likes of Paul, Perry or Santorum in the more-“liberal” (by their standards, not ours) swing States?

  • By the way, it’s worth catching David Schoenbaum, for the NY Times, explaining how the Iowa caucuses came to achieve this significance:

    For more than a century, Iowa caucuses were little noted nor long remembered. But then came caucus time 1968. Brigades of furious Vietnam War protesters, who had never been seen at a caucus, swamped party regulars and demanded that they be represented. The war that tore up the Democratic party and turned its Chicago convention into a riot led to a revolution in the way state parties pick convention delegates.
    With many states again favoring primaries, Iowa stuck with its caucuses. But state law required at least a 30-day interval between each of its respective stages. This meant advancing the first stage to January in order to finish in time for the national convention.
    Suddenly, without meaning to be, Iowa Democrats were at the head of the election year parade, and realized that they liked it.
    Iowa Republicans soon joined the fun and moved their caucuses forward too. Iowa then struck up a lovely friendship with New Hampshire that has survived all challenges, though it has often required both to reset the calendar to stay in front.

    Meanwhile, also at the NYTimes, Ross Douthat reminds us :

    It’s easy to complain about the Iowa caucuses – easy and completely justifiable. Iowa’s caucus-goers have given us the presidency of Jimmy Carter, lent credibility to Pat Robertson’s political ambitions and created a permanent constituency for ethanol subsidies among Democrats and Republicans alike. As friendly and civic-minded as Iowans may be, there’s no reason why a low-turnout contest in a small, rural state should play such an outsize role in every presidential nominating process.

    But in the wake of Tuesday night’s Romney-Santorum photo finish and Ron Paul’s strong third-place showing, it must be said that this time around Iowans have discharged their responsibility impressively. Presented with the weakest presidential field of any major party in a generation, they made the best of a bad situation, punching the three most deserving tickets without handing any of them a decisive victory.