Well, a few minutes ago the Iowa Republican Party committee announced that Mitt Romney has won the Iowa Caucus..And by just the skin on his teeth.
This ended what has been indisputably the closest and most heated Iowa Caucus in our history with the top candidates (Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney) going neck & neck all night with neither have much of a lead as each new precinct reported this votes. It made for one very interesting and exciting evening for political wonks and regular folks alike.
And for that, we Iowans should be proud. There was talk not too long ago that Iowa could become irrelevant this year and that our vote was unimportant and should not be treated with any real serious thought..But low and behold in a period of just a few weeks the race here in Iowa has possibly changed the whole dynamic of the GOP race. Why you ask?
Rick Santorum had seen a meteoric rise in the polls over the last week or so here in Iowa and unlike previous up & comers, his rise was timed almost perfectly to give him an impressive showing here in Iowa and only narrowly losing to Mitt Romney, and I congradulate him on that. I make no bones about my dislike of Mr. Santorum, but I give credit where credit is due and he has earned his 15 minutes of fame tonight. We shall see if this new found fame and success (not to mention scrutiny) will continue past Iowa..
For the record, here is the final rough results for the Iowa Caucus via POLITICO :
Mitt Romney- 30,015
Rick Santorum- 30,007
Ron Paul- 26,219
Newt Gingrich- 16,251
Rick Perry- 12,604
Michelle Bachmann- 6,073
Jon Huntsman- 745
No Preferences- 135
Herman Cain- 58
Buddy Roemer- 31
But enough about that. I know many Americans either don't understand how the Iowa Caucus works and what the appeal of such a process is for political wonks and regular folks alike and I hope I can try and explain it here briefly.
First, I must admit that with tonight I have officially voted in both Democratic and Republican caucuses (though obviously not at the same time lol) and many outside Iowa will be shocked to know there is a very stark difference. The main difference being Democrats don't do a simple preference vote and instead organize people into groups (based on their choice of candidate) and when the 1st round of voting is done, if your candidate didn't get at least 15% of the vote, you were told to pick your 2nd choice for a candidate and then vote again. As such, it is not a "secret ballot" and thus a bit difficult for many to understand compared to a normal election. Also as you might expect, such multiple rounds of voting can take a while depending on how big your precinct is.
The Republican Caucus is quite a bit different. Firstly, while you are of course organized by your local precinct (just as the Democrats do). However the biggest difference is the method of choosing your candidate. Instead of huddling in groups and possibly having to make another choice if your candidate isn't popular enough, you are given a simple piece of paper with a list of candidates and are asked to mark your choice, fold your paper and return it the precinct captains. That's it, short sweet and right to the point. For my part, I live in a pretty small area and as such my precinct only had ~20 or people. As you might expect, voting doesn't take long nor does counting said votes.
So sounds pretty simple right? Well, many are probably still wondering why anyone would willingly give up 30-45 minutes of their lives for such an activity? Personally, even though my one vote is no more important than anyone else's vote, the fairly small number of people that participate in the Iowa Caucus makes you FEEL like your vote counts a little more than in a regular primary, not to mention you feel a certain amount of comfort voting with one's neighbors.
So as I finally bid my computer farewell for the evening, I want to congratulate all my fellow Iowans who took part in the Caucus, regardless of their choice for GOP nominee. And for those who skipped out, I hope that next time around you take part in this most Iowan of activities, whether just out of curiosity or out of passionate support for a particular candidate. It may not be the fastest or most efficient way to pick a nominee, it's still a fun experience and one I hope all Iowans take part in at least once. But you know what the best part about the Caucus is? Those horrid and annoying TV ads and phone calls will FINALLY stop/slow down!...At least til this Fall...