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3rd January
written by Sean Noble








Talk about a photo finish.  Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney ended up with a mere 8 (!) votes separating them as of 1:20 3:00 a.m. EST. After a see-saw night, Romney prevailed, but the story is Santorum.

Santorum’s historic comeback can be attributed to three key factors: he slogged his way through every Iowa city, town and, hamlet over the last few months – something no one else did; the super PAC supporting Santorum peaked at exactly the right time, with the necessary air support; and the Romney super PAC did a very good job of undercutting Newt Gingrich.  (It also helped that Santorum’s opponents all but ignored him, allowing him to escape the Negative Ad Holiday Spectacular with few bruises.)

No single factor made the absolute difference; his near-victory required this perfect trifecta (plus one).

New Hampshire will be interesting.  Romney almost certainly will win, but Gingrich will be looking to avenge his thrashing at the hands of the Romney super PAC.  Santorum will get a bounce, but it’s going to be very muted.  Ron Paul will manage a 2nd or 3rd place win.

Then there’s South Carolina, and it could determine the nomination.  Gingrich is polling strong there, and Romney will struggle.  If Santorum uses his win in Iowa to leverage a big push in South Carolina (again at Newt’s expense), we could end up with a Santorum-Romney-Romney-Santorum result after the first three contests and that makes Florida a complete wild card.

This certainly won’t be boring.




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  1. Darden

    I disagree. Ron Paul will not score in the top three in NH. His Liberterian views will not play well there while Romney will. Huntsman will shave a few points from Romney.

    Romney will win but it won’t be a romp like so many are predicting.

    Newt will do better in SC, but a lot of the Perry supporters will flock to Santorum…so much less baggage that Newt. Remember Perry ran as an outsider, and if you like outsiders to pick between Rick and Newt (the ultimate insider) – Rick will be the lesser of two evils. Few will hold their nose and pick Romney.

    Bachmann didn’t pull out yet, but she should, and she will if not before SC then right after. Her supporters will also split between Rick and Newt, but few if any will go to Romney.

    When Huntsman withdraws Romney will benefit, but he is single digits added to the now traditional Romney 25%. He might get to 30% in moderate NH…we will see.

    Santorum lost the IA caucus by only 8 votes – a huge win for him by any standard. He has not opened fire on Newt, who has lots of money and could hurt him with negative ads. Newt has been very careful not to fire the first round in negative ads, and this a brilliant move by Santorum not to give Newt the opening. And it is classy, too. Newt has had to try to beat Santorum on policy and they have essentially the same message, just Rick does not have the loads of baggage Newt does.

    Coming into FL it will be a three way, with Romney, Newt and Rick. I give Rick the thumbs up in that scenario. Newt and Rick continue to be a class act, with Romney seen as allowing his obvious stand-ins to do the mud slinging…I think the negative statements overtly made on his behalf make him look like a coward. I think he will be percieved as hiding behind Christie who is seen as … well if Romney makes a sharp turn it could break Christie’s nose.

    Bottom line – even in a three way race you can’t win with 30% of the vote.

  2. Woody

    I’ve been expecting some talking head to point out that Santorum was the primary (no pun) beneficiary of Romney’s PAC ads against Newt. Newtonians weren’t going to drop him and run to Romney. Romney had to know that but given the roller coaster polls I doubt anyone predicted Santorum would get them all.
    My guess is Newt’s star will continue to fall. The best ticket the GOP can put up–and I believe it will thrash Obama–is Romney-Santorum. Rick seems to have the sense to take the VP slot if offered.

  3. Darden

    Woody, I agree that the ticket could win with Romney and Santorum, but you got the order just backwards.

    If Santorum is able to pull out a second place win in NH, he will be the front runner going into SC and FL. If not then the Newt machine will chew him up and spit him out.

    Newt has gone so negative it may hurt him in SC and FL…and his comment about blacks should be asking for jobs instead of food stamps was, frankly, amatuer. If he said AMERICANS instaed of BLACKS he would have been fine – and correct as opposed to politically correct. That will not play well to the black voters in SC or FL.

    I think if Newt wins he will ask Santorum, since PA will be a must have state for the Rs in the General against Obama. It is not like the socialist mentality in MA will ever be in the R camp – so who really needs Mitt?

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