From Politico.com: The Iowa caucuses delivered a virtual tie for first place between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, with Romney ahead by just eight votes, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn announced early Wednesday. Each carried 25 percent of the vote, with Ron Paul in third at 21.5 percent. Newt Gingrich was in fourth, with 13 percent, Rick Perry in fifth, at 10 percent, Michele Bachmann at 5 percent and Jon Huntsman at 0.6 percent.
It’s a dead heat tie with much bigger implications.
It means among other things that there are actually people out there that went out of their way to support a seriously damaged candidate with an extensive record of gaffes, weird behavior and failure as a public servant in Pennsylvania that got him dumped after one term by the largest majority in voting history. SPECIFICALLY to avoid supporting the only candidate that has any meaningful chance of competing with Obama. Each and every one of the current candidates still (for a while) in the race is spending more time dumping on the only viable choice than pushing a Presidential agenda. That means that the dissension within the Republican party is such that they are severely damaged before they even go up against the Obama machine, a formidable opponent.
Lets argue just for grins that the radical right wing of the GOP really is in charge now and they can maneuver to pick a candidate. Lets argue further than that faction has decided after munching on each of the others for a while that Santorum is the best choice to carry their banner. If that were to happen, the GOP would go down in flames like Pierre the French fighter pilot almost immediately. There’s a reason why Santorum only earned a < 10% share outside the Tea Party enclave of Iowa. He’s not an arrogant, mean spirited asshole like Gingrich, not a brain damaged serial platitude spinner like Bachmann and he’s not a kindly grandfatherly relic of Ayn Rand like Paul. He’s a sober, well meaning person with a history of failure that has no business being allowed to do it all again on a higher level. Not only do 90% of mainstream GOP voters not support him, if he were to be actually selected to run against Obama, every Democrat of any stripe would come from as far away as Venus to specifically vote AGAINST him. It’s Clark’s Law. The reason Romney has a shot at it is not just because he will appeal to the majority of non-Tea Party mainstream Republican voters in the end, but also because he has the only chance to draw in disaffected Democrats who will NEVER vote for a strongly conservative candidate.
Accordingly, since I’m doing pretty well in my predictions (I predicted Paul, Romney and Santorum as 1,2,3 in Iowa) 😉 I’ll now push my luck again.
* Santorum has gleefully gotten the erroneous message that he can win and will lunge forward with renewed vigor to be beaten by Huntsman (0.6 share in Iowa) in New Hampshire and end up on the bottom (again). He will then go on to South Carolina and end up 4th or 5th and will then issue forth the “it’s been a great day for conservatives” speech and tearfully drop out.
* Sadly, Bachmann drop out and all the late night comics will be forced into retirement. She’ll tearfully issue the “it’s been a great day for conservatives” speech and quietly fade back to converting gays to the path of righteousness.
* Paul will continue to be the kindly grandfather with a copy of Atlas Shrugged under his arm and will continue to run every four years until he dies quietly in bed at age 104, then he’ll be cryopreserved by Mike Darwin and run again in the year 3424.
* The Grinch will do everything in his power to create as much disaffection within the party for the obvious choice until someone in the power base gives him the “Hillary Call” and tells him to die more quietly. He’s too mean to die however and will eventually be pickled and rolled in and out of conventions in-state like Jeremy Bentham.
* Huntsman will have a fair showing in New Hampshire then vanish. He will write a book wondering what it was all about that will sell three copies.
* Perry is the one of the clown acts that has correctly observed this is over and has quietly moved out with as much dignity as is possible to muster under the circumstances.
* Romney will win New Hampshire big and go on to win South Carolina which will rubber stamp New Hampshire and then this drab, dreary, dreadful, draconian drama will drag to a merciful end. When selected as the however reluctant GOP candidate, he will continue to reverse virtually every position he’s ever held to appease the Tea Party which will use his photo for target practice on firing ranges.
That said, it probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme because the GOP is in the process of tearing itself apart and as long as the economy remains even reasonably stable, it’s highly unlikely voters will dump an incumbent.