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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

And They're Out of the Gate ...

Here's what the Iowa caucus results mean to me: All losers need to get out now.  And you know who you are.

The winners?  In this order - Romney (25%), Santorum (25%), Paul (22%), perhaps Gingrich (14%).

The others?  If they couldn't put a blip on the screen in Iowa, they aren't going to do it anywhere.

And, most important, the losers are dividing the conservative vote to the point where it doesn't have its necessary punch.

As to the caucus results themselves and what they mean to us:
Iowa's Opening Skirmish
Wall Street Journal

Iowa's corner of the electorate cast the first verdict of the 2012 Presidential campaign Tuesday night, and the results look more like an opening skirmish than the coronation for Mitt Romney that much of the media had prepared. 
Many Republicans—especially party elites—have been coalescing around Mr. Romney as the most "electable" candidate, by which they seem to mean the one with the fewest obvious flaws. But electability is a slippery concept, especially 10 months from November. Democrats said the same thing about John Kerry in 2004, while the media were convinced that a right-wing former movie actor was unelectable in 1980. Voters would do better to drop the pundit game theory and choose the best potential President.

On that score, Mr. Romney deserves credit for his doggedness and discipline. However uninspiring, those are useful traits in a candidate or a President. The man who rescued the 2002 winter Olympics has proven he can assemble a team and adapt to the blows of a modern campaign. He has been ruthless in attacking the competitors who were his biggest threats, Rick Perry and Mr. Gingrich, attacking from the right or left if it worked.

Yet Iowa's flirtation with so many "non-Romney" candidates shows that a majority of Republicans still find him less than convincing. The media want to attribute this to anti-Mormon bias. But the polls show that Mr. Romney's Mormonism is a much bigger issue among Democrats than within the GOP. 
The real issue is that Mr. Romney is a cautious, conventional politician in a year when many GOP voters want someone willing to fight for bolder change. On the economy in particular, Mr. Romney is offering the least ambitious plan for growth. Mr. Romney unveiled his 59-point jobs plan in September, and if you can remember two of them you'll win most family trivia contests. His refusal to rule out a value-added-tax is also troubling, especially if Democrats ever won the House during his Presidency.
Mr. Romney's great advantage is that he faces a divided field of conservative competitors, none of whom has been able to consolidate support. 
Mr. Santorum will get the biggest bump out of Iowa, coming from nowhere in the final weeks to finish strong. The former two-term Pennsylvania Senator played the tortoise by visiting all 99 counties and pressing social and moral issues. He has also been impressive in debates, especially on foreign policy.

But to be more than an Iowa flash, he'll need to broaden his message to include economic growth and a jolt of optimism. In his moral fervor Mr. Santorum can sometimes sound like a charter member of the cast-the-first-stone coalition, when most voters prefer a more tolerant traditionalism. [link]
Odd beginning.

But it's just the beginning.