The Iowa Caucuses

A few months ago I flew home from Washington D.C. sharing the row with a guy from Iowa. One of the fun things about going to or from WDC is that everyone assumes you are willing to talk politics. When he started the conversation, I was happy to oblige.

He was a professor having spent a few days to capture grant money in the nation’s capitol. I asked if he went to the caucuses.

“Always,” he said.

He then went on to explain how really different they are from anything else America does. You listen to the pitch from each camp that evening and then you go stand in a corner. If your favorite doesn’t have the numbers to make the cut, you go stand in another corner. You are literally taunted, cajoled, and sometimes ridiculed by your neighbors as you make your decision. He admitted there’s a lot of peer pressure to the process.

Oh, wow, I thought. In this day and age that’s how they choose a candidate?

And that’s kind of my point. Iowa means nothing, except that it’s Iowa, and the hype has to start somewhere. This election is going to be shoved down our throats every day until the first Tuesday in November. It’s important that we pace ourselves.

I’ve said from the beginning I’d vote for whichever candidate has an R by their name on the final ballot. I’m still there. While Herman Cain would have been a boatload of fun, all things considered, that wasn’t meant to be.

I expect us to remain as civil as possible in the process. This is your official warning.

As for a prediction I’m going to go out on a limb and call Santorum in a surprise upset, but only by a hair. I suspect it’s going to be that kind of year.


  1. I totally agree that Iowa means nothing as far as who gets the nomination. Sometimes it can mean something as to who does not continue in the race. And remember there are no delegates actually won tonight.


    Santorum has about 1 in 25 chances of getting the nomination. Paul has zero chances of getting the nod. Perry and Bachmann have less chance than Santorum. Gingrich is a long shot and it’ll be Romney at the finish line.

  2. I actually agree that Santorum could win tonight. My prediction:

    Santorum 24
    Romney 24
    Paul 20
    Newt 11
    Perry 11
    Bachmann 8
    Huntsman 2

  3. Ryan
    I like your top 3 but I believe Perry will top Newt with about 15 and Newt around 8-9. It really makes no never mind in the big picture, though it’s fun to speculate.

  4. The professor must have been a Democrat (no surprise). The GOP in Iowa doesn’t do the stand in a corner thing. They hear speeches (Fox just showed one where Perry and Anne Romney spoke), and then conduct a straw poll with paper ballots.

  5. Indeed he was, and I noticed that. Thanks for the clarification.

  6. KPOM is right except I don’t think there is a ballot at all. They just write the name of the candidate they are supporting on a blank piece of paper.

    Not to toot my own horn, but as of right now, my prediction is looking pretty decent. Was a little low on Newt.

  7. You overstated Huntsman a bit, Ryan. 🙂

    Anyway, I think tonight is the official coronation of Santorum as the Anti-Romney, but it probably is also the beginning of the end of the campaign. Romney will take NH easily, and Santorum will make a last stand in SC before fading, if he hasn’t done so by then.

    The razor-thin margin either way has to be a disappointment for Romney, who I’m sure hoped he could strike a knock-out blow with 28% of the vote (and a solid 1st place finish). Plus, turnout was lower than expected.

    Oddly, Romney won Dubuque County, which was thought to be Santorum country. He also held ground in Polk (where Des Moines is). It’s the rural vote that is making the race so close.

  8. Santorum is up by 4 votes with 1 precinct left as I write this (though Karl Rove is claiming that a few precincts might post updated results). This is the tweet of the night:

    @news3jessica: Five votes. I can’t believe it. #iacaucus” No worries; late votes from Waukesha County will probably tip this.

    Update: Rove is reporting at 1:02AM CST that Romney will win by 14 votes. Apparently the two campaigns agreed on the vote in the last remaining precinct in Clinton County, and the other precincts that had misreported votes have now corrected them.

  9. And the IA GOP Chair is in with the final (uncertified) results: Romney 30,015, Santorum 30,017. Romney wins by 8 votes or 0.0066%.

  10. 30,007. 🙂

    Nine people messed with my prediction.