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Mitt Romney Beats Rick Santorum By Eight Votes In Iowa Caucus; Ron Paul Places Third

Submitted by on January 4, 2012 – 10:42 amNo Comment
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In a contest deadlocked late into Tuesday night, Mitt Romney finally emerged as the winner of the Iowa caucus, while Rick Santorum is easily claiming a de facto victory by finishing only eight votes behind. (Each candidate had about 24.5% of the vote.) Ron Paul had a strong showing coming in third, but missed the top-two finish that might have solidified his status as a current front-runner.

Romney’s campaign will roll on facing the same issues, as his fellow candidates (and voters) question his conservative credentials and ability to connect with voters. But a bright sign for Romney in Iowa was the importance voters placed on “Electability”, as many gave Romney high marks in the belief that he has the best chance to beat Obama in 2o12.

Santorum relished his performance, telling a celebratory crowd, “Game on.” Santorum’s conservative Christian platform played well in Iowa’s large evangelical community, as did old fashioned campaigning: he was the only candidate to visit every one of Iowa’s 99 counties. But many have wondered whether the former Pennsylvania senator can turn this momentum into large donations and a more efficient campaign structure, overcoming a lack of similar demographic support outside of Iowa.

Dr. Paul told a crowd that “there were essentially three winners,” and that he was “raring to move on to the next stop.” But even supporters seem split on whether this was a decisive victory. Coming in third, Paul faces challenges similar to Santorum, as he must continue to draw a specific demographic (in his case, an unusual coalition of independents, libertarians, and some Democrats). However, many noted that as an ideological movement, his campaign had a clear win in Iowa, drawing twice the votes he got there in 2008, and further increasing the solidly mainstream profile of a so-called “fringe” candidate.

Towards the bottom of the pack, candidates showed discontent. Newt Gingrich lashed out at Mitt Romney, as SuperPAC’s supporting Romney began heavily running negative attack ads against Gingrich in recent weeks. Today, Gingrich took out a full-page newspaper ad in New Hampshire (site of next week’s primary), promoting himself as a “Reagan conservative,” and criticizing Romney as a “Massachusetts moderate.”

Rick Perry, in fifth place, showed the most serious strain. Perry announced that he would return home to Texas and “determine whether there is a path forward” for himself in the race.

Finally, Michele Bachmann‘s campaign pledged to move forward, despite receiving only a devastating 5% in the state where she was born, where her target evangelical constituency is strong, and where she won the Ames straw poll only months ago.

What do you think? Who were the real winners yesterday?

[Source: Washington Post; Image via The Washington Times]

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