Remember when political races didn’t always end up in near photo finishes? Instead of one clear winner, we instead get a drawn out battle and a Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney tie, with Ron Paul finishing within inches of the others.
For former Governor Mitt Romney, it’s perhaps the worst of spots. The ploy that he wasn’t really campaigning in Iowa didn’t stick, and he wasn’t successful in lowering expectations as much as the campaign would have liked. Anything less than a full win was likely to make him look bad, and a tie? That has to hurt.
Former Senator Rick Santorum’s high finish appears to be primarily a result of high evangelical turnout, as well as a large number of undecideds breaking for him at the final moment. But how much of Santorum’s finish was a result of the well-timed combination of flavor of the month surge and the fact that the other candidates didn’t take him seriously enough to bother attacking before the caucus began? You can bet that is a mistake that won’t be replicated as the three frontrunners head into the next primary.
Congressman Ron Paul nearly managed to get into photo finish, too, and it looks like it was thanks to the youth and first time voters of the state. Those were the same demographics that propelled President Barack Obama into winning the endorsement, but it seems unlikely that history will be repeated with the Paul campaign.
Still, some things were made abundantly clear last night. For instance, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s campaign is over, whether she likes it or not. Bob Vander Plaats says hang it up. Her former campaign manager says just stop it already. And when even Sarah Palin is telling you your time is over, Bachmann may want to consider just conceding.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was that former Republican turned Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson made a few headlines on caucus night, through his endorsement of Ron Paul’s campaign. The news was most surprising to Johnson himself — it turns out the endorsement was a hoax.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via wikimedia commons