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Instant Analysis: Who Won, Lost in the Iowa Caucus? Now You Tell Us What You Think

Experts say Mitt Romney did what he had to do in Iowa, and is on a clear path to the nomination. Paul and Bachmann among the losers.

Political watchers say Mitt Romney did what he had to do in the Iowa Caucus and has a clear path to the Republican nomination for president.

While former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum virtually tied Romney Tuesday, he lacks the general appeal to truly contest the former Massachusetts governor, experts say. Meanwhile, for third place finisher Ron Paul, the results were a setback.

Now Romney heads to New Hampshire. Santorum may—or he could just focus on South Carolina.

Romney continues to stay clearly in the lead in New Hampshire. A  had Romney well in front with 39 percent of support followed by Gingrich and Paul, who were tied at 17 percent each. In two polls released on Dec. 29 and Monday, Romney kept his sizable lead, Paul solidified second, and Gingrich dropped into a virtual third place tie with Jon Huntsman. Santorum had 5 percent of support, and Perry and Bachmann had between 2 and 3 percent support.

Then it's off to South Carolina where Gingrich is well ahead. A Clemson University of poll place , followed by Romney with 21 percent and Paul with 10 percent. Perry, Bachmann, Santorum and Huntsman all garnered support between 3 and 5 percent.

Instant analysis:

David Redlawsk, Rutgers University political science professor:

Santorum: I don’t think he is sprinting to the lead, but he will certainly be seen as a real candidate. He may be seen as the not-Romney. Sprinting ahead.

Romney: He is still likely to be the nominee. He did about the same as four years ago, at best. In a pack this weak he should have done better. He clearly has a ceiling. Can folks suck it up and vote for him in primaries going forward? It’s hard to tell with Romney. This is not really a victory for a guy who has been running for six years. He does, depends on the spin coming out of Iowa. Dog paddling to stay alive to Sprinting ahead.

Paul: They have already begun to discount his status. Coming in third was bad for him. doubled number. He falls back in third, and enough so that talking heads will focus on Romney and Santorum. Dead in the water.

Gingrich: He’ll slash and burn for a bit. The big question is whether he tears down Romney, but the question is also if he has money to. Obviously, he is not happy about (his finish in the Caucus). Dead in the water.

Perry: It goes to show you can’t buy the caucuses. Dog paddling to Dead in the water.

Bachmann: She’s done. You are on the ballot, but it is meaningless whether she quits before New Hampshire, but I’d be surprise if she doesn’t quit after. Dead in the water.

Tim Hagle, University of Iowa political science professor:

Bachmann: Dead in the water.

Gingrich: Dog paddling to stay alive.

Perry: Dog paddling to stay alive or Dead in the water.

Santorum: Santorum is having his moment, and it’s very good for him. He’ll get a flux of fundraising. Unlike the other candidates, he hasn’t been vetted as they did. He’ll come under much closer scrutiny. If Santorum’s momentum dissipates by the time they get to South Carolina, his threat to Romney is probably gone. Sprinting ahead.

Romney: Sprinting ahead.

Paul: Dog paddling to Sprinting ahead.

Dianne Bystrom, Director Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University:

Bachmann: Dead in the water.

Gingrich: Dog paddling to stay alive.

Perry: Dog paddling to stay alive to Dead in the water.

Santorum: Sprinting ahead.

Romney: I actually think Romney did pretty good coming out of Iowa, primarily because he didn’t spend a lot of time here. On a national stage, his challengers are more likely to be Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, so coming out of Iowa with Santorum and Paul as his biggest rivals is good for him. Sprinting ahead.

Dante Scala, professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire:

Santorum: He's in the low single digits in New Hampshire now, but I expect that to change. He has the potential to finish in the money in New Hampshire. He certainly has the opportunity to finish well. Sprinting ahead.

Romney: He's holding his own. He may or may not turn out to be the winner in Iowa [as of this writing], but his most-feared competitor, Rick Perry, is going home to Texas. Mitt Romney is doing no better than he was four years ago. The good news is his competiors Rick Santorum and Ron Paul: It's hard to see the scenario where they become a nominee. Romney would have lapped the field had he won decisively. But Rick Perry going home is a big deal. It's hard to see Rick Santorum or Ron Paul becoming the nominee of the party. Sprinting ahead.

Paul: He'll probably do well in New Hampshire, but it's unclear what his fate is after New Hampshire. He remains a factor in the primaries moving forward, but he wasn't able to cash in. He did better than '08, but it wasn't an earthquake tonight. But it would have been had he won. Dog Paddling to Stay Alive. 

Gingrich: I don't see a way up for Newt Gingrich at this point. I don't see him coming to New Hampshire and gaining or reigniting his campaign here. I just don't see a path up. I think Santorum is going to become the fresh new face here in New Hampshire. And he doesn't have the money. He's really smarting. Romney and Paul have put him in a world of hurt. Dead in the Water.

Perry: So much money in Iowa for so little return. It's a game of what-ifs at this point for Rick Perry. What if he'd gotten in the race earlier? What if he'd have done better in the debates? It doesn't matter now. He's going back home to reassess his campaign. Dead in the Water.

Bachmann. Gosh, you finish last among those who are competing in your own state? She'll end with maybe 6,000 votes out of some 100,000 cast. If you can win only five percent in your self-avowed home state, you're done. Dead in the Water.

Christopher Larimer UNI associate professor of political science:

Romney: The fact he campaigned so little in the state and came within a half a percentage point of winning (at the time), and the person who ended up winning he doesn’t have to worry about, I think he is sprinting ahead.

Santorom: This was a huge boost to his campaign. He’ll keep going, and get a financial bump, but I think the wise strategy is to skip New Hampshire and go to South Carolina. Sprinting ahead.

Paul: He didn’t get a bump. He didn’t win or did win by very little some key counties in the state. Dog paddling to stay alive.

Gingrich: This is a set back, and a set back in the sense he finished fourth ahead of Perry, but he is behind the leaders. Dog paddling to stay alive.

Perry: This was a big blow. Dead in the water.

Bachmann: Dead in the water.

Steffen Schmidt, Iowa State University political science professor:

Romney: Romney is going to win NH. He has a national campaign plan and money ... If there were two winners, two people at the top, a couple percentage points doesn’t mean a whole lot. For Romney it kind of certifies his standing. Mitt Romney won tonight. Lapping the pack.

Santorum: Santorum fit the Iowa conservative Christian, evangelical voter base, and they are the ones that voted for him. He couldn’t get 30 percent and in other states he won’t even get 25 percent. No doubt it gives him a bump, and more money. He should go to South Carolina and he may actually come in second or third, but I think the Republican party is kind of conservative, but not as conservative as Rick Santorum. Sprinting ahead.

Paul: Paul is at 21-22 percent. He has a loyal following, but he can’t push above that. Dog paddling to stay alive.

Bachmann: She is finished politically for this election. She’s spent all of her money. Dead in the water.

Gingrich: He is still alive, bleeding with a couple of limbs missing. He will try in South Carolina and Florida, but he needs some limbs attached and tourniquets. Dog paddling to stay alive.

Perry: He under performed. He’s sick and tired of this wants to go back to Texas where people like him. Dead in the water.

Nichole McDowell January 04, 2012 at 03:05 PM
In my district in Urbandale, Newt Gingrich won with 39 votes, Ron Paul was second with 37. (154 votes tota). The person who spoke on behalf of Gingrich was very charismatic and really sold him to the crowd. I think he swept the undecideds to Gingrich.
Tonto January 05, 2012 at 03:34 AM
In my district....la la land....Paul won over the tooth fairy :)
angie ray January 05, 2012 at 12:43 PM
So tired of Paul being discredited, underestimated and, worst of all, ridiculed despite the great strides he's made. The bias is sickening, really. He went from "the laughing stock" of a torn apart and perverted Republican party to coming in THIRD in Iowa, behind a virtual tie of the two frontrunners (one of which is a fluke and will not be repeated) and people still have the audacity to ridicule him and his followers. Unreal. Some people are in for a rude awakening when all their over-saintly candidates find themselves running out of either steam, money, favor or all three..
Jonathan Gems January 11, 2012 at 12:04 AM
The Iowan caucasus has always been conducted with open and visible voting. So the extraordinary, late-in-the-day introduction of secret vote-tabulation by the Republican leadership was a heads-up that election fraud was being planned. Immediately prior to the vote, the polls showed Ron Paul having over 50% of the vote - more than all the other candidates combined. But the Republican leadership was no way going to let Ron Paul win. Iowa's corrupt governor even said publicly that if Ron Paul did win Iowa, it 'wouldn't count'. In the event, the election was stolen from Ron Paul - as it will no doubt be in New Hampshire too (more easily because of their programmable voting machines). America can no longer call itself a democracy because the American people are not allowed to choose the candidates they want to represent them. This is tragic - the end of a great nation. What is to be done?
Tonto January 11, 2012 at 03:34 AM
You sound like President Oblamer :)

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