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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rick Santorum Wins in Iowa!

Well, no, Mitt Romney won by 8 votes last night, but it really is a big, big victory for Santorum.. and a big win for the "anybody but Mitt" crowd.  

Romney really needed to win outright to show Republicans that he had the party faithful behind him.  But he just couldn't get it going.  Republicans aren't crazy about Romney, and they are still playing the "Anybody but Mitt" song.  Meanwhile, as one by one each of the other candidates rose and fell, it was time for Rick Santorum, whose claim to fame is his rampant anti-gay rhetoric and his extreme anti-choice rhetoric.. even going so far as opposing birth control.  

Will Santorum be another of those 15-minutes-of-fame-and-top-poll-numbers Republicans.. or will he have some staying power as the Evangelical/Tea Party wing of the Republican party flail around for somebody to hang onto?  After Santorum, there really aren't any Evangelical or Tea Party candidates left, are there?  So he may wind up as the Evangelical/Tea Party standard bearer, even though it is unlikely he could be chosen as the actual Republican candidate.      

Who Supports Romney?

Since Romney is still likely to be the eventual nominee, let's look at who supports Romney (and who doesn't)  according to the exit polls:

  • People over 65. (33% for Romney).  49% of young people 17-29 support Paul, 30% of the 30-44's support Santorum, with 26% of the 45-64's supporting Santorum.
  • Neither men nor women.  Men favor Paul (24%) ; women favor Santorum (27%).
  • The least educated and the most educated.  High school or less, 22% for Romney.  Post graduate degree, 29% for Romney.  "Some college" went for Santorum; college graduates split in a 3-way tie for Paul, Romney, and Santorum. 
  • The wealthiest.  36% of those with a family income of over $100,000 supported "Mr. Silver Spoon" Romney.  Santorum came in second in that group and he captured the $50,000 to $99,999 income group.  Paul captured the under $50K group.
  • He did not capture self-proclaimed Republicans (They favored Santorum) or independents (They favored Paul).
  • People who consider themselves "moderates" or "somewhat conservative" supported Romney, 32% and 38% respectively.  ("Liberals" supported Paul; "very conservatives" supported Santorum.)
  • People who opposed the Tea Party movement backed Romney.  People who "strongly supported" or "somewhat supported" the Tea Partiers backed Santorum.
  • Evangelicals did NOT support Romney; they supported Santorum.
  • Of those who believe the economy is the biggest issue, 32% voted for Romney; also 48% of those for whom the biggest issue was who could beat Obama voted for Romney.  The "strong moral character" people voted for Santorum; and the "true conservative" people voted for Paul.
  • Romney attracted the suburban voters; the three top candidates split the larger city voters, and Santorum attracted the under 10,000/rural people. 
What about the others?

Ron Paul was a strong and respectable third, with support among the young and among new caucus-goers.  However, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann are likely to drop out sometime soon.  Where does this leave Newt Gingrich?

Gingrich did not attract significant numbers of any group of people; so there is no toe-hold for him.  He can't take the Tea Party/evangelical vote; even Romney gets a much larger part of the "somewhat conservative" vote; he does not take a plurality on any issue.  The only group in which he makes a headway are those who think the biggest issue in 2012 is who "has the right experience".  Newt comes in second in this group, with 28% of those people backing him, while 35% of those people back Romney.  And, no surprise, only 4% of those Repubs caucusing in Iowa think that Newt has a "strong moral character".  

As one Huffington Post writer believes, the biggest winner of the Republican Iowa caucuses was Barack Obama.  It makes sense; as the Republican candidates self-destruct, cannibalize each other, and appear really disunited.  Meanwhile, the President's poll numbers are finally inching back up, teasing with that 50% mark after months in the low-40's.   

Next stop:  New Hampshire.   

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