Iowa Caucuses Today: What Comes Next?

It’s finally here, the long, long, long talked about Iowa Caucuses. What comes next?

(USA Today) Republican presidential candidates have been warming up for months for tonight’s Iowa caucuses.

The results will start a sprint – or a marathon.

For more than three decades, the opening contest here in Iowa has narrowed the Republican field and sharpened a race that was then decided by a handful of early contests, well before most states had voted. This time, though, a revised primary calendar and changed party rules have set the stage for what could be a longer and less predictable slog.

In fact, the point of Iowa is not really to pick the winner, but to eliminate other candidates. The meme going around that Iowa has never picked the eventual Party candidate is untrue. Bush 43 and Bob Dole won. Carter and Obama won. Iowa should be ashamed over the last two. Anyhow

(Examiner) What Iowa effectively does is narrow the field, weeding out some while simultaneously lifting others to a platform they never approached before.:  One can afford to lose in Iowa, but only if the loss is deemed by the media as still “exceeding expectations.”:  In 2008 John McCain was “allowed” to finish fourth because he had always made New Hampshire his focus, but Fred Thompson was all-but-declared dead after campaigning hard in the state and finishing third.:  Failing to garner double-digit support (see then Governor Bill Richardson in 2008) is deemed an unpardonable sin, and the media promptly ignores the candidate until they announce they are leaving the race.

In contrast, a candidate who exceeds expectations in Iowa is immediately lavished with the kind of free media praise that campaign managers dream of at night.:  The candidate is praised for his or her ability to “connect” with the everyday person.:  The candidate must have a “winning message” and an outstanding organizing ability.:  If the candidate recovered from lower poll numbers they are given the “comeback” label and complimented on their grit and perseverance.

Back to the USA Today article, the end result could be provide a quick end to the nomination process, with Mitt Romney as the winner, according to the article, especially if he goes on to win New Hampshire, or a long, long slog. A third option could be someone else jumping in to the race. Doubtful. The only big name out there really being considered is Sarah Palin, and she has already signaled that she doesn’t have the fire in her belly to run.

By Wednesday, we could see Bachmann and Perry out, though they say they are going to South Carolina and bypassing New Hampshire. Santorum should survive. When it comes to Newt and Paul, we’ll have to see.

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