The Bigger Picture
Published on January 15th 2012 in Metro Éireann By Charles Laffiteau
Now that the results of the Iowa caucuses are in, today I will discuss the results of the Iowa caucuses and their impact on the Republican field and then begin a more in depth analysis of each of the remaining candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination.
One of the first casualties of the Iowa Republican primary was actually an Iowa native Representative Michele Bachman. Ms. Bachman had spent most of her time and campaign money barnstorming the state where she grew up, hoping that the combination of her evangelical Christian and Tea Party bona fides would allow her to finish as one of the top two or three Republican candidates. Instead, her rather dismal sixth place finish with a measly 5% of the vote effectively ended her campaign for 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.
In fact the only active Republican candidate Bachman finished ahead of was former Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman, who barely spent any time or money campaigning in Iowa. However, even though Bachman has now suspended her 2012 Presidential campaign, because she is both photogenic and a favorite of Tea Party and evangelical Christians, I strongly suspect she will try to run for President again in 2016 and or 2020.
As for Governor Huntsman, even though he finished dead last with only 1% of the Republican votes, Huntsman didn’t expect to do well in Iowa and had focused his time and resources on the 10 January New Hampshire primary. Although Huntsman is far and away the best Republican candidate in the field, I simply don’t believe his more moderate positions on issues like the economy, taxes, and climate change to resonate with enough Republican voters to give him any real chance of winning in 2012. However, given Republicans general lack of enthusiasm for the rest of the field of Republican candidates, if Huntsman finishes as one of the top two vote getters in New Hampshire he may indeed still have a chance in 2012.
Besides Bachman, the other two Republican candidates who had to be most disappointed with the Iowa caucus results were former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, who finished fourth with 13% of the vote, and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who finished fifth with only 10% of the vote. Perry in particular had to very disheartened by his poor showing given all the time and money he had spent in Iowa, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be the next candidate to follow Bachman’s lead and head for the exits.
On the other hand, Newt Gingrich’s fourth place finish wasn’t all that bad considering the fact that he had been targeted by a series of very negative campaign ads paid for by ‘independent’ PACs aligned with Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. I therefore fully expect Gingrich to continue his 2012 Presidential campaign for at least a couple of more months provided he can finish among the top three vote getters in the remaining January primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada. But if Gingrich fails to crack the top three by the end of January, then I believe his 2012 Presidential campaign will be doomed.
As for the other Republican candidates, unlike many other political pundits, I wasn’t surprised by the close finish of the top three vote getters because I understand how each of the three appeals to their particular base of voters.
Ron Paul’s third place showing with 21% of the vote is a reflection of his attractiveness to the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Paul’s libertarian philosophy resonates with Republican libertarians who comprise about 20%-25% of Republican voters.
Former Senator Rick Santorum’s virtual tie for first with the best funded candidate, Mitt Romney, is likewise a reflection of his appeal to evangelical Christians and Tea Party activists. As for Romney, he appeals to more pragmatic Republicans who comprise about a quarter of Republican voters and favor the best organized and well funded candidates. I will discuss Romney as well as the New Hampshire results next month.