Before I continue to break down the individual campaign performances, I'd like to address a silly Drive-By Media talking point: The results in Iowa ARE NOT good for Obama. Obama was not the biggest winner. The more conservative and Republican ideals are discussed and debated in the public arena the worse it will be for Obama. The more attention paid to the miserable failures of policies that Obama has put into place the worse it is for Obama.
Now to respond to the four top candidates, starting with the winner, Mitt Romney.
Governor Romney won, just barely. By just barely I mean he won by eight votes. Some would consider this a big win for Mitt, since he barely tried in Iowa and still won. On the other hand, Mitt got precisely the same vote percentage as last time, 25%. Usually candidates who are returning for their second run do better in Iowa. Mitt still can't crack 30%. Iowa was not a big win for Romney. It was a disappointment.
The big winner in Iowa was the, just barely, second place candidate, Rick Santorum. Santorum played the "retail politics" strategy by going to all 99 counties in Iowa to take his case directly to the people. The question that will remain is whether or not Santorum can do the same thing in New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Florida and so on. What this win will do for Santorum is give him a boost in fundraising and a boost in camera time in the two debates that are happening this weekend prior to the New Hampshire Primary on January 10th.
Now to Ron Paul. I'm sure I'm going to upset at least one person with my comments here, but Paul had a disappointing performance. He was predicted by many to win the Iowa Caucuses, especially noting that Paul and his organization would do better in Caucuses than Primaries based on the structure of a caucus as well as noting that individuals can change their party affiliation at the door of their caucus. So to only come in 3rd place in the most well known caucuses in the election with the most time available to campaign. Agree or disagree with him, I believe Paul lost support because of his views on Iran and other foreign policy issues. He is still out of line with the mainline Republican party and mainline conservatism.
Finally, we come to my candidate, Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney's onslaught finally dinged up Newt. He dropped to fourth place. As I noted yesterday, I believe there was another reason why Newt dropped: There wasn't a debate for nearly three weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucuses. This will not be the case in New Hampshire and South Carolina, since there will be two debates EACH in the respective week before New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. This is going to serve to remind voters why they liked Newt in the first place.
One final note: One must remember that the Iowa Caucus delegates are distributed proportionally to each candidates' vote total. There were 28 delegates decided yesterday (out of over 1700 total). The delegate tally now is 6 each for Romney, Santorum and Paul, 4 for Gingrich and 3 for Perry. Michelle Bachmann also received 3 but has dropped out of the race. New Hampshire, which is coming up in six days, has only 12 delegates available. South Carolina provides 25 proportionally distributed delegates and Florida 50 proportionally distributed delegates.
Based on the most recent polls of New Hampshire (which based on proportional distribution will give Romney approx 5.28 delegates, Ron Paul 2.26 delegates, Gingrich 1.5 delegates and Santorum .5 delegates); South Carolina (which based on proportional distribution will give Newt 9.25 delegates, Romney 5.25 delegates, Paul 2.18 delegates and Santorum .7 delegates); and Florida (which based on proportional distribution will give Newt 17.5 delegates, Romney 14 delegates, Ron Paul 3.25 delegates and Santorum .75 delegates); we can predict as it sits now that by the end of January the race will look like this:
Gingrich - 32.25 delegates
Romney - 30.53 delegates
Paul - 13.69 delegates
Santorum - 7.95 delegates
To be clear, there are so many factors that can adjust these totals. (For one, nobody can gain a fraction of a delegate...this was just me figuring out a direct proportion of delegates based on current polling numbers.) With Michelle Bachmann leaving the race, one can expect either Gingrich, Santorum or Perry to pick up her support. If Perry drops out, either Gingrich or Santorum will likely gain his supporters. Also, it's likely that Santorum will gain support after his Iowa win. But my point stands: we're talking about just over 1.5% of the delegates that will voting at the Republican Convention in August that have been distributed after Iowa. The delegate total is a separate of 3 delegates between the top candidate and hte last place candidate. New Hampshire will only (proportionally) distribute 12 more candidates. Nothing is decided. Not even close.