The State Of The Race Post-Iowa

by John Hawkins | January 4, 2012 6:09 am

Last night, Mitt Romney defeated Rick Santorum in Iowa by 8 votes. Ron Paul finished third, Newt came in 4th, Perry was in 5th, Bachmann took 6th, and Huntsman came in last.

All in all, you have to call this a fairly good night for Mitt since he did win, even if it was only by an underwhelming 8 votes. Yet and still, the fact that Santorum spent about $1.65 per vote while Romney spent around $113 per vote[1] isn’t exactly going to challenge the meme that Romney has extraordinarily tepid support and is barely getting by only because of money, the establishment conservative media/mainstream media deliberately ignoring his flaws, and a split field.

That being said, Mitt should gain additional momentum from his victory. Moreover, Rick Santorum who came in second, is unlikely to become a viable challenger. He’s a big government Republican with no money and no organization who has only been able to rise this far because he has received almost no scrutiny. Mitt can easily wipe Santorum off the board at his leisure with negative ads; so having him do well raises up another non-viable challenger to siphon off money and votes.

Additionally, Rick Perry has headed back to Texas and appears to be poised to drop out. On the one hand, this is more good news for Romney since Perry has the money and organization to go on for months if he wants. On the other hand, if Perry leaves the race, it frees up his supporters to go elsewhere. Bachmann has not said she’s dropping out, but she has no money, no organization, no traction, and no meaningful reason to continue unless she wants to deliberately try to help Romney by siphoning off conservative votes in an effort to be chosen as his VP. So, if Bachmann and Perry leave the race, it frees up a block of voters who are likely to go somewhere other than Romney.

Realistically, if Perry drops out, Newt is probably the only candidate who has a chance to stop Mitt. There is an outside chance that Santorum could pick up momentum, win in South Carolina, knock Newt out and then go on to challenge Romney, but it seems extremely unlikely that Santorum could defeat Mitt in a long, drawn out battle.

Next up is going to be New Hampshire, where Mitt seems to have an insurmountable lead. However, he’s now the undisputed front runner and you can expect everyone, Newt included at this point, to start trying to knock Romney’s block off. On the other hand, look for Mitt to target the only other candidate who can probably stop him, Newt Gingrich, in hopes of beating him out of the race and leaving the field to Santorum, who’s practically guaranteed to tank and hand Mitt the nomination.

  1. Santorum spent about $1.65 per vote while Romney spent around $113 per vote:

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