Paul's got legs, Romney feet of clay, and Santorum grew wings

Paul's got legs, Romney feet of clay, and Santorum grew wings

Summary: This is why I love the sport of politics. To see something completely unexpected, to see a triumph of hard work and retail politics, is just incredibly cool -- whether or not you like the candidate.

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TOPICS: Telcos
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Winning is winning is winning. That'll be the mantra of the Romney campaign -- at least until the players take to the field again in New Hampshire next Tuesday.

See also: CBS News election results

Romney "won" Iowa, if you think winning by eight votes is winning. That's less people than stood in line at the local Publix deli counter last week, while I waited for my thinly sliced prosciutto. Even so, to the Romney camp, winning is winning, even if it's by a nose.

See also: Are these really the best America has to offer? (Campaign 2012)

The real surprise was Rick Santorum. Most of us pundits had written of former Pennsylvania senator quite some time ago, and we were right -- until last Friday or so. That's when he started to surge, pulling out ahead of all the other conservatives, blasting by Bachmann, passing by Perry, galloping past Gingrich, and pole-vaulting over Paul.

If those eight people had voted differently, Santorum would have won.

This, by the way, is why I love the sport of politics. We'll discuss Santorum as a leader later, but for now I want you to understand just how cool it is, after months of studying stats and patterns, to see something completely unexpected, a triumph of hard work and the most retail of retail politics.

See also: Campaign 2012: Once every four years, I wish I lived in Iowa

Santorum doesn't have anywhere near the campaign warchest of his rivals. Instead, he just drove himself around Iowa and pretty much met everyone in the state, met them in person, heard their stories, and told them his. That's actually what politics is supposed to be about. Like his positions or not (and I'm not a fan, frankly), you have to respect the process and the effort.

Santorum pulled off quite the upset and he has every right to crow about it.

While Romney and Santorum each got 25% of the vote, Paul came in a more distant third, with only 21%. Almost 4,000 fewer people voted for Ron Paul than Romney and Santorum.

While Iowa's only one state in 50, it's the first state with elections and we're going to start to see drop-offs if the other candidates don't make the leaderboard pretty darn soon.

So what does this mean for each candidate? Let's take a visit to our rogue's gallery yet one more time.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney comes out of very conservative Iowa with a win (barely). Even so, it's enough to keep up his momentum as he heads into New Hampshire next week. New Hampshire, where he has a home, and next to Massachusetts, is most likely a lock for the wealthy New Englander.

If Romney falters in New Hampshire, then he's in trouble. But that's actually highly unlikely and if he leaves New Hampshire with two wins under his belt, he's going to be very hard to unseat, especially as the other candidates start losing monetary support.

This is my first call of the 2012 election, but it's looking increasingly likely that Romney will be at the head of the 2012 ticket. That's not going to make a lot of conservatives happy, but given that a resounding 48% of those polled in Iowa think he can defeat President Obama, even the arch-conservatives will probably rally around him.

See also: What was Mitt Romney trying to hide by destroying hard drives?

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum was yesterday's complete surprise. He resonated strongly with Iowa's Christian conservative voters. According to CBS polling data, a full 56% of Iowans identify themselves as White evangelical/born-again Christians. A full 33% of these people voted for Santorum.

This is actually quite odd. Although Santorum has come out strongly conservative, advocating teaching both "intelligent design" and "teaching the controversy," he's actually a Catholic, not a born-again evangelical. Many evangelicals are somewhat uncomfortable with Catholics, and given that Perry and Bachmann are evangelicals and Ron Paul is a Baptist, you would have thought that the evangelicals would have sided with one of those three.

Santorum is now on the map, and expect him to raise more money now that he's actually shown such an impressive game. That said, he's unlikely to score well in New Hampshire. The following week is South Carolina, and after that Florida, and if putting theology before science resonates anywhere, it's in the deep south.

Here's another early prediction: the GOP ticket will be Romney/Santorum.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul proved he has legs. He scored almost as well as Romney and Santorum and, statistically at least, it's a three-way race. Paul appeals to young libertarians and stands a fair chance of doing well next Tuesday in New Hampshire.

This is hammer time for Ron Paul. He has to show strong in New Hampshire to keep going. Most GOP strategists have already counted Paul out as unsustainable, but his showing in Iowa shows he's got some legs. He has a broader appeal than Romney, and so has a chance of a good showing in South Carolina and Florida.

Romney and Paul do not get along. Don't expect there to be a Romney/Paul ticket. If Ron Paul is going to make it to Pennsylvania Avenue, he's going to have to make it happen in the next three weeks. The good news is the Tea Party likes Ron Paul (a lot) and doesn't like Romney (a lot). So, if they can mobilize, there may be a game here.

Newt Gingrich

Newt did not show as well as he could have. Newt came in fourth in a three-man race. He pulled in 13% of the vote, half of each of the front-runners.

Professor Gingrich has a bit of a retail politics problem. The more people get to know him in person, the less they like him. He's brash and egotistical (and yes, that means he has an open party invitation here at Camp David), but that doesn't go over well in polite company.

While I don't think there's much chance he'll nab the nomination unless Romney does something extremely, Herman Cain/John Edwards-level stupid (and that's not Romney), there's a pretty good chance Gingrich will continue to play Candidates-R-Us, at least for the next few months. Gingrich is powered, not as much by outside money, as by an internal fire and love of the stage, and the former Speaker is likely to hang onto that stage for as long as possible.

Gingrich and Romney do not like each other, and Gingrich wouldn't do anything to enhance the Romney ticket, so don't expect him on the Veep short list.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry scored 10% in Iowa. He's done. He screwed up in the debates. In a white, conservative, highly evangelical state, he scored below a Catholic and a Mormon from the Northeast. That's not good.

He may be a walking corpse in New Hampshire, but unless he takes it all in South Carolina, it's time to pack him and whatever that crap is that he puts in his hair, and send him back to Texas.

Noon update: According to CBS News, Perry is "reassessing". He need to reassess this fact: He's done. Put a fork in him.

Michelle Bachmann

There's no good news this morning for Michelle Bachmann. She was born in Iowa, has put a tremendous level of effort into Iowa, and scored all of 6% of the vote. She's already running a shoe-string election, and this won't help.

She may have enough money left for plane fare to New Hampshire, and it's not a bad car ride down to South Carolina and Florida, but unless she gets some sort of divine intervention, she's toast.

If Romney calculates he wants to go with a woman veep, there's a chance it might be Bachmann. But there's also a good chance he'd go with a woman who's a little less out there.

Frankly, I think Bachmann's dead and she knows it.

Noon update: That was quick. She's out. CBS News has the details.

Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman made a deep tactical mistake. Because he knew he wouldn't really appeal to Iowa voters, and because he has a limited war chest, he decided to devote it all to New Hampshire.

Bad. Bad move.

All night, Jon Huntsman showed up on the Iowa results at about 1%, bottom of the charts, bottom of the barrel. Yes, the case could be made that he didn't campaign in Iowa, but that's tilting at windmills. He's running for the presidency and in the first election, he didn't show up to play.

Once you score at the 1% level, voters in other states aren't going to resurrect you. I'd be surprised if he makes it out of single digits in New Hampshire. Huntsman will be gone by February first.

He and Romney might make for a good ticket if Romney wanted someone qualified to be president in the number two slot. But when you're running against an incumbent president, you don't want that. You want someone who'll compensate for your weaknesses, and two billionaires aren't how you compete against a guy raised by a single mom and comes from Detroit. Huntsman will not be Romney's Number 2.

On to New Hampshire

So there you go. The field is already shaking out. There's another debate this weekend, so there's yet another chance for Rick Perry to say or do something stupid.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

Topic: Telcos

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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28 comments
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  • A few points...

    Iowa is no longer the conservative bastion it once was. Obama won the state in 2008. It is one of the states where two individuals of the same sex can marry. Mitt Romney, a New England moderate, won the caucus for GOP presidential nominee.

    Rick Santorum would get crushed in a general election. That's just reality. He has taken such extreme positions that no other outcome is possible. He believes states should have unfettered ability to control peoples lives in a Taliban-like theocracy, evidenced by his comments that states should be free to ban all forms of birth control and sodomy. He claims education is not a cost effective way of helping the poor move up the economic ladder. He claims that there is no such thing as a right to privacy and equates that concept with bigamy, polygamy and incest.

    Many of these positions and traits of Santorum play well to a fraction of the Republican base. Fortunately, they drive away everyone else. I can't imagine him getting enough support to win the Republican nomination for president, but should that happen the 2012 election will be a landslide victory for those who oppose a theocratic state. He'd win the southern white evangelical male demographic but lose everyone else. Your amazement at the ability of American politics to completely throw everyone for a loop is understandable, but this is still just a small state caucus with no real history of picking winners or losers. All it really shows us is who doesn't stand a chance (Perry and Bachmann, I'm looking at you). I agree with your assessment of Jon Huntsman. Worse than not showing up, he effectively campaigned against himself by his statement that Iowa picks potatoes and New Hampshire picks presidents. Not a smart move...
    jasonp@...
    • "Taliban-like"?

      @jasonp@... <br>Think what you like about laws against birth control or homosexual conduct, but they were commonplace in the US until the 1960s (and the states that had such laws were hardly religious dictatorships). The Taliban, on the other hand, are better known for beating men for trimming their beards, burning down girl's schools, and requiring people to celebrate the executions of supposed apostates, none of which has ever been countenanced in the U.S.<br><br>I've long maintained that rhetorical hyperbole is a form of lying. I do so here.
      John L. Ries
      • RE: "Taliban-like"?

        @John L. Ries No question about it. The Taliban are nasty.

        But let's consider some U.S. history. The U.S. was created in 1776 with adult, white males constituting the voting population. Black men received the 'right' (quoted for obvious reasons) to vote almost 100 years later. Women received the 'right' (quoted because of black women) to vote in 1920. And native Americans received the 'right' (quoted again for obvious reasons, some states were very slow) to vote in 1924.

        The U.S. permitted slavery until the end of the Civil War. And our nation continues to struggle with its legacy through poverty, crime, etc.

        The U.S. went to war with Mexico and acquired what is today Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. And today we arrest Mexicans for being in these states illegally. (Makes one wonder where Saddam got the idea to acquire Kuwait.)

        And genocide against Native Americans was a policy of the U.S. government for over 100 years (note that I include the Wounded Knee massacre). Even today, many (not all) reservations are islands of poverty, alcoholism and abuse. Those tribes that managed to hang onto their natural resources (think of the Homestake mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota as an anti-example) have, mostly, been able to at least make a stand against poverty, alcoholism and abuse on their reservations.

        The U.S. can take pride that, in WWI and WW2, our involvement helped to keep both Turkey's (the 'Young Turks') genocide of Armenians and Hitler's genocide of Jews, gypsies and homosexuals from going to their completion.

        How long has it been since the My Lai and Fallujah massacres that the U.S. perpetrated? As well as the torture at Abu Ghraib prison. With all of the progress the U.S. has made since 1776, our house is still not in order.

        It's time for the U.S. to return to it's roots as a Rebublic, a true Rebuplic this time around, and ditch the empire. We simply cannot afford it's price tag anymore. It's an absolute circus that we are consolidating our military in Asia to confront China while we simultaneously borrow money from them to support our own military-industrial-congressional complex. And instead of turning our backs on the United Nations and dissolving the State Department, we need to engage the rest of the world both 'with' the rest of the world as well as one-on-one. And the UN security council, as it currently exists, should be dissolved as it's nothing more than a modern-day Animal Farm where some nations are more equal than others.

        There are elements of Ron Paul that I find compelling, but there are also elements that trouble me greatly. I do know that neither the Democratic nor Republican Party, controlled by corporations that are legal persons, will take this country in the direction it needs to go.

        Back to the Taliban. Afghanistan represents the last casualty of the Cold War and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan began in the 1950's. When the Soviets invaded Afganistan, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Adviser, celebrated that the U.S. could now give the Soviets their Vietnam. And asymmetric war followed, ultimately, driving out the Soviets and contributing to the collapse of their empire. However, Afghanistan was devastated. It was in this devastation that the Taliban and Al Quaeda grew from the seeds planted to drive out the Soviets. As bad as the Taliban are, discrimination and violence against Afghan women did not begin with the Taliban. The Pashtun culture, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, has long been known for its lack of kindness towards women. The Greeks failed in Afghanistan. As did the Persians, British (twice) and the Soviets. That's why they call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires. Sadly, the U.S. will not escape this either. We're broke.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Double post

      NT
      John L. Ries
    • Hmmm.

      @jasonp@... I think the sheer number of people, whether if he wins or looses, who vote for Santorum will suprise you. I don't believe his positions are as extreme as you might think and are not at all how you charachterized them.<br><br>He's a blue state Republican.
      People
      • RE: Paul's got legs, Romney feet of clay, and Santorum grew wings

        @People

        Were you a Pennsylvanian during his term as a senator? His theology plays a lot into his politics, and his views are as extreme as others have mentioned. (He may be Catholic, but his views would be fitting of a strict Baptist as well). If you checked into his record, you'd see this. He's not the typical republican that panders to the Christian-right just to get their vote, he truely wants to put the church (or at least it's ultra conservative principles) as the ruler of this country. Now I myself follow most of the Christian principles, but that is not something you should be forcing onto a population that may not have the same values or beliefs. I think he's a dangerous person, and I was glad to see him voted out of office.
        NetAdmin1178
      • @NetAdmin1178

        You're paranoid.
        People
      • RE: Paul's got legs, Romney feet of clay, and Santorum grew wings

        @People
        Good reply!
        That was really a well thought-out response. I applaud you.
        NetAdmin1178
      • Maybe so but like most Democrats, most Republicans are ...

        @People ... moderates (slight left, or right) of center. The rest are independent voters who claim no party affiliation.

        Despite all of it's faults, the Roman Catholic church embraces education in general, embraces evolution and modern science. Nowadays, they even embrace other faiths - especially Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Islam, and all variants of Christianity (even Mormonism). Most American Catholics are even more open-minded than even the church leadership.

        By comparison, American Evangelicals are a very conservative crowd.
        M Wagner
      • He's not paranoid

        @People
        I actually helped vote him out of office. I live in PA, and he's done nothing.

        or maybe we should just say
        "That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be"
        Or maybe
        "...it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the [Catholic Church Sex Scanal]storm
        or maybe
        "contraceptives are a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."
        or maybe that Santorum has frequently stated that he does not believe a "right to privacy" exists under the Constitution, even within marriage

        Yeah, he's as far far right as you can get, and he'll get no vote from me.
        William Farrel
  • No. I don't agree.

    Paul put all his eggs in the Iowa basket, and came in too far behind to conclude he has legs. 50% of the vote went to 2 Republicans, of which Paul is not, and the reamining 29% went to the rest of the Republicans. He's toast. And if he chooses to run 3rd party, of which he is, and ruin his Sons chances at a future reelection, then any Republican nominee is also toast and Obama will have a no-holds-barred chance to continue transforming America.
    People
    • RE: Paul's got legs, Romney feet of clay, and Santorum grew wings

      @People Interesting...
      mcwong1
    • Re: No. I don't agree.

      I wish I had your confidence in calculating future human behavior.
      jmoore125
  • Except...

    ...that ALL politicians are nothing but lying sacks of poo, who will say/promise ANYTHING for a vote. And that includes all political wags from BOTH parties.
    IT_Fella
    • RE: Paul's got legs, Romney feet of clay, and Santorum grew wings

      @IT_Fella "...that ALL politicians are nothing but lying sacks of poo"

      That may well be my favorite quote of this whole election season!
      David Gewirtz
      • And yet in some future column

        You'll call for the lying sacs to be given even more power over our day to day lives.
        baggins_z
    • And those that are not

      @IT_Fella - If one can be found, never stand a chance. This implies that we like to elect lying sacks of poo. Probably so as to have something to complain about.
      People
      • Exactly

        @People <br>Maybe we should be a bit more careful about how we cast our votes.<br><br>Reply to People:<br><br>Start with yourself and then try to persuade your neighbor. Either way, just maybe we should be less eager to vote for politicians who simply tell people what they think will get them elected, instead of saying what they think is really in the public interest and why.<br><br>Amazing how people can mispell my name when they can copy and paste it.
        John L. Ries
      • @John L. Reis

        @People - Agreed, however I cannot control how the person next to me votes, nor would I.
        People
    • RE: Paul's got legs, Romney feet of clay, and Santorum grew wings

      @IT_Fella
      Well said!
      NetAdmin1178