UPDATE: After a recount on January 19, it was reported that Rick Santorum actually won the Iowa caucus by 34 votes.
On January 3, 2011, Mitt Romney won in the Iowa caucuses by the closest margin in history – 8 votes – over Rick Santorum. The caucuses are the first major step towards the final presidential nomination, followed by New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. Although Iowa represents only about 1% of the nation’s presidential nomination delegates, it gives an early look at who might win and who might not have the steam to continue on.
Governor Mitt Romney from Massachusetts won the caucus, but not by very much. Rick Santorum, senator from Pennsylvania, came in just eight votes behind. Romney had 30,015 votes and Santorum had 30,007 votes – both snagging about 25% of the vote – out of more than 122,000 votes cast. Ron Paul came in a close third, with 21%.
This comes just one week after when Santorum was still lagging in the single-digits, but his campaign in Iowa, visiting all 99 counties, holding many town hall meetings, and spending more time than any other candidate in the state. He jumped 17% over two weeks, from 8% to 25%.
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, finished fourth. His hopes of the race being between him and Romney in the end are fading, and people’s theories that he was just another one of the candidates that had a peak in the polls were pretty much correct. But Santorum is a different story. He caught on fire just at the right time, right before the caucuses, and many undecided voters flocked to him as an “anti-Romney” candidate in the end.
And there was Michele Bachmann watching all of this. She finished in a dismal 6th place, and she decided to “stand aside” and suspend her campaign. She gave a final speech on Wednesday, announcing her leave, and quietly packed up. Bye-bye Bachmann. Also, Rick Perry, who finished 5th, went back to Texas to “reassess his campaign.”
What’s next for the candidates?
Well, the next primary state is New Hampshire. People think it’s a no-brainer for Romney, since he’s spent so much time in the New England region anyway, and he’s already campaigning in South Carolina. But there could be an unpleasant surprise waiting for him – Rick Santorum has got the momentum with him, and he vowed to take the fight to New Hampshire. Ron Paul could also win pretty strong there. But the real test is in South Carolina, where the state is really conservative and they don’t want a more moderate person like Romney.