How Many Tickets out of Iowa?

07Jan12

In the past week, I’ve heard a few mentions of there only being three tickets out of Iowa. That doesn’t have to be true this year, since the Republican Party has gone to a proportional delegate apportionment system. However, because of the candidates in the race, it looks like the three tickets will be around for a while longer. Let’s have a look at the candidates, and what the Iowa results will mean for them:

Mitt Romney:

He comes out of Iowa strong. He wanted to avoid looking like he’d invested much energy into Iowa, so even third would have been good for him. His narrow official win (even with the reports of an error meaning that the actual win would have been Rick Santorum’s) means that he heads to New Hampshire with a good head of steam. It’s hard to see him losing New Hampshire, and if he does, it will raise big questions.

Rick Santorum:

The current “Not Romney” candidate, he was a dark horse, who nobody expected to do so well. It appears that he may have earned a win (by 12 votes), but even the official 8 vote loss is impressive. His showing was as a sleeper, though, and it remains to be seen how he will hold up to scrutiny. He is likely to benefit from Michele Bachmann’s withdrawal from the race. His high placing means that his candidacy is more than just an attempt to move Dan Savage’s definition of Santorum off the first page of a Google search.

Ron Paul:

He did better than expected. He is the only representative of the libertarian wing of the party. Unlike the social conservative wing, his potential support wasn’t split between other candidates. Expect him to do well in libertarian New Hampshire, but struggle more in the more socially conservative south. He’s unlikely to drop out, but it’s doubtful that he’ll be a strong force long-term. As social conservatives drop out, the gap between the social conservatives and Paul will widen.

Newt Gingrich:

The former Speaker is difficult to categorize. He didn’t do as well as he hoped (or the media expected a few weeks back). He would be the best bet for a fourth ticket, as he doesn’t represent a clear wing of the party (Corporatists have Romney and Huntsman; Social Conservatives have Santorum, Perry and Bachmann; Libertarians have Paul). As a Georgian, the timing of the South Carolina and Florida primaries should help him. Gingrich has some moderate tendencies, but not in temperament. He could have had the fourth ticket, but declaring that he’ll stay in the race to try to drag down Romney will drag him down.

Rick Perry:

As a social conservative from a southern state, Perry’s fifth place showing doesn’t necessarily have to end his campaign. Like Gingrich, the early South Carolina and Florida primaries should be to his advantage. Don’t expect much out of him in New Hampshire or in the more libertarian Southwest.

Michele Bachmann:

For a different candidate this year, a sixth place showing would not have to mean an end to their candidacy. Bachmann staked her candidacy on Iowa, though. She’s the one candidate from the mid-west, and an Iowa native. Her well-documented problems with factual accuracy probably didn’t help her. Her loss here would be like Romney losing in New Hampshire. Expect her fellow social conservatives, Rick Santoum and Rick Perry to benefit most from her withdrawal from the race.

John Huntsman:

Polling at one percent, it’s a bit of a surprise that Huntsman has stayed in the race. He has a lot in common with Mitt Romney (which is probably part of the reason he hasn’t been the leading “Not Romney” candidate yet). Between their Mormon faith, and moderate/corpoartist platforms, Huntsman’s challenge continues to be differentiating himself from Romney while separating himself from President Obama.

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