Is Eight Enough? Where Mitt Romney And Rick Santorum Go From Here (The Note)

Jan 4, 2012 8:10am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

DES MOINES — It doesn’t get any closer than this: eight votes separated the winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney, from runner-up Rick Santorum.

After a disappointing second-place finish in Iowa four years ago, Romney clawed his way to a win on Tuesday night in a nail-biter of a race between the former Massachusetts governor and the former Pennsylvania senator.

In the end, Romney squeaked out a victory by just one-tenth of a percent over Santorum. And although Romney has reason to be confident about his chances in next Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, he now has reason to be concerned too.

“Game on,” Santorum said in a celebratory speech to supporters in Iowa late Tuesday night as he warned them not to “sell America short.”

Without mentioning Romney by name, Santorum said: “Don’t put someone out there from Iowa who isn’t capable of doing what America needs done.” Everyone knows who he was talking about.

Romney, meanwhile, urged his supporters, “Onto New Hampshire, let’s get that job done.” He can take comfort in the fact that the man who once looked like his strongest opponent for the nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, came in a disappointing fifth place, and announced that he was returning to Austin to reassess his political future.

Newt Gingrich, who also looked like he would be a serious threat to Romney, struggled to a fourth place finish. He has pledged to drop the Mr. Nice Guy approach he took in Iowa, and to start making a sharp contrast with Romney in New Hampshire. Even so, the damage inflicted on Gingrich’s standing in New Hampshire as well as nationally is real.

But despite his win, Romney still hasn’t been able to shed the perception that he’s got a problem with conservative Republican voters.

According to entrance polling taken of Iowa caucus goers, 47 percent identified themselves as “very conservative.” Santorum took 35 percent of their votes to Romney’s 14 percent.

Voters who called themselves “strong” tea party supporters went with Santorum by a 2-1 margin.

The big bright spot in the entrance polling for Romney is the fact that the economy, not social or cultural issues, is the driving issue for all voters. Forty-two percent of Iowa caucus-goers said the economy was their most important issue — just 13 percent picked abortion.

Romney took 33 percent of those who’s top concern was the economy compared to just 19 percent for Santorum. (More results from the Iowa entrance polls from ABC’s Matt Negrin: http://abcn.ws/wNJg2c)

Going forward, Romney needs to show he can broaden his coalition to include more strong conservatives, while Santorum will need to broaden his message to appeal beyond his base of social conservative Republicans.

@GMA: A dramatic finish in Iowa- @jaketapper holds up the front pg of the Des Moines Register. instagr.am/p/eWPZK/

 

ROMNEY ON SANTORUM: He Focused on Iowa, I’m Running A National Campaign, the winner of Iowa tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Romney dismissed Santorum, as someone who doesn’t have the organization to win the nomination or the right experience to create jobs as president. “We have very different backgrounds. I spent my life, the first 25 years in the private sector. I know a great deal about how jobs are created, how they come and how they go, and I think Rick has spent most of life in the governmental sector. Nothing wrong with that experience, but it’s very different I think if you want to get the economy going again,” Mitt Romney told Stephanopoulos on ”Good Morning America” today. “Rick has focused his effort, and I think in a wise way, entirely on Iowa. I’ve been campaigning in other states, putting together the kind organization which I believe will get me the 1150 delegate I need. So let me tell you I’m going to take every win I can possibly get and get every delegate I can possibly get,” he said. http://abcn.ws/wCEWuw

TUNE IN: ABC’s David Muir interviews Mitt and Ann Romney today in New Hampshire.

HAPPENING TODAY: Michele Bachmann finished dead last in yesterday’s caucuses. Although in a speech last night she vowed to soldier on, her campaign has scheduled a press conference for today in Wes Des Moines and speculation is running high that she cut short her presidential bid.


BY THE NUMBERS. Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn announced the final results of the 2012 this morning, noting that the party enjoyed a record turnout of 122,255 caucus-goers.

Mitt Romney: 30,015 (24.6%)

Rick Santorum: 30,007 (24.5%)

Ron Paul: 26,219 (21.4%)

Newt Gingrich: 16,251 (13.3%)

Rick Perry: 12,604 (10.3%)

Michele Bachmann: 6,073 (5%)

Jon Huntsman: 745 (0.6%)

Herman Cain: 58 (0%)

Buddy Roemer: 31 (0%)

No preference: 135 (0.1%)

Other: 117 (0.1%)

NOTED: Romney received six fewer total votes last night than he did in 2008.

 

IOWA CAUCUS WINNERS, LOSERS AND IN-BETWEEN-ERS.

WINNERS:

Rick Santorum: Proving that retail politics isn’t dead, the ex-Senator worked the state harder than any other candidate and it paid off. Can he ride this win to victories elsewhere? With Perry taking a hiatus from the trail, the Bachmann campaign on life support, and Gingrich currently obsessed with attacking/engaging Mitt Romney, Santorum has a great opportunity to establish himself as the consensus anti-Romney candidate.

The Des Moines Register: Proved that local papers can not only survive, but thrive. They combine good old-fashioned shoe leather reporting with an understanding and aptitude for the technical and digital world. Following stand-out DMR political reporter Jennifer Jacobs on Twitter was a necessity for every political reporter in the country.

Sweater Vests: The “fashion” statement by Rick Santorum got its own New York Times story and its own fake twitter account. Will Romney soon “fear the sweater” in NH and SC?

Pick-Up Trucks: The barn-jacket wearing Scott Brown drove his truck to an improbable victory in Massachusetts. In Iowa, it was a gray pick-up nicknamed the “Chuck Wagon” (it was driven by GOP activist Chuck Laudner) that carried Santorum above and beyond all expectations.

Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn: The savvy and media friendly chairman helped Iowa retain its “first in the nation” status, even as many were pooh-poohing its relevance. How do we know media took the state seriously – if you park yourself at the departure gates from DSM airport tomorrow morning you’ll see every single political reporter in the country.

MIXED & ‘MEH’:

Mitt Romney: He wins Iowa by eight votes, but still can’t dispel the tag that he’s a candidate who can’t win over conservative Republicans. Despite his huge campaign war chest and an aggressive super PAC advertising campaign on his behalf, Romney barely inched past an under-funded candidate like Santorum. Romney could be poised for back-to-back victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, where polls show him with a big lead, but he’s got a new foe to contend with who has already started painting him as a moderate.

Iowa TV stations: They made a ton of cash in 2008, but with few candidates spending any money on TV ads, the stations were poised to take a huge hit in 2012. Heavy spending by SuperPAC’s helped to bring some cash into the TV station coffers.

LOSERS:

The Ames Straw Poll: The August ritual has been derided for years as a boondoggle and an over-hyped fundraiser for the state Republican party. Mitt Romney easily won the straw poll in 2007, only to come in a disappointing second place in the caucuses in January of 2008. This August, Michele Bachman won the straw poll with 28%. She will leave the caucus in last place with about 5 percent of the vote.

Rick Perry: No candidate spent more of their own campaign cash on ads in the Hawkeye state than Rick Perry. On paper, the Texas Gov. with his Tea Party bona-fides, deep fundraising base, and successful jobs record was a perfect fit for the Hawkeye state. The reality, however, was far, far different. The debate gaffes were an obvious strike against him. But, he also never settled on a consistent message. Instead of highlighting his jobs record, he decided to try and define himself as the values candidate. That all but insured that he was fighting with at least four other Republicans to try to win the social conservative vote. (More on Perry’s return to Texas from ABC’s Arlette Saenz: http://abcn.ws/wfJafq)

Michele Bachmann: No one fell from the frontrunner perch farther or faster than the Minnesota Congresswoman. The Iowa native who loved to boast about her roots in Waterloo, took just 7 percent of the vote in Blackhawk County (home to Waterloo).

Local Ballot Counters: The problem with local volunteers counting paper ballots by hand, it’s messy and a prime opportunity for mistakes . Combine this with a group of tired and cranky reporters and campaign supporters and conspiracy theories are sure to flower.

 

RICK SANTORUM’S PATH FORWARD: ‘We’re Going To New Hampshire And We’re Going To Fight’ Though Rick Santorum ultimately came up short in Iowa to Mitt Romney by the slimmest of margins, he won the battle of expectations. More important, he’s leaving his top rivals for the title of conservative alternative to Mitt Romney — Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich — in the dust.

So what does Santorum do now? He needs to solidify his status as the anti-Romney, consensus conservative. The best way to do this is to show that he can consolidate that base in states other than Iowa. But New Hampshire isn’t a natural fit for Santorum. In Iowa, 58 percent of Republican caucus-goers defined themselves as evangelicals. In New Hampshire, meanwhile, just 23 percent of 2008 Republican primary voters characterized themselves as such. In Iowa on Tuesday night, 14 percent of these voters said that abortion was their top concern, and almost 60 percent of those supported vehemently anti-abortion rights Santorum. Over half of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire said they thought abortion should be legal.

So, why not go straight to South Carolina? Sources close to the campaign say that Tuesday night’s strong showing in Iowa coupled with another one in New Hampshire could solidify the race as a Romney vs. Santorum contest. And more specifically, a battle between a candidate they will try to cast as a moderate (Romney) vs. the “true” conservative (Santorum). It was also evident from Santorum’s victory speech on Tuesday night that he is intent on framing the race as a contrast between his own blue collar roots and Romney’s far more privileged upbringing. Santorum’ advisers argue that despite Romney’s lead in the polls in New Hampshire, they too have laid the groundwork to be competitive there. They add that although the former Pennsylvania senator has basically lived in Iowa for the past few months, he has managed to log almost as many days in New Hampshire as Romney.

“I’m not saying that we’re going to win New Hampshire,” Santorum adviser Hogan Gidley said in an interview with ABC News, “but we’re going to New Hampshire and we’re going to fight.” Gidley said the campaign’s goal over the coming weeks would be to prove that Santorum can go “toe to toe with Mitt Romney in any part of the country.” http://abcn.ws/x34rSs

In case you missed it, ABC’s Terry Moran, Jake Tapper, David Muir and Jonathan Karl wrapped up last night’s Iowa caucus results on a special edition of “Nightline” live from Des Moines. WATCH:  http://abcn.ws/x2xheD 

 

THE BUZZ

ROMNEY’S IOWA VICTORY MAP. ABC’s Chris Good asks (and answers) how Mitt Romney won Iowa in 2012 with six fewer votes than he collected in 2008?

The former governor saw a handful of the counties he won in 2008 slip away to his newfound rivals, but he made up the difference by winning more votes in large counties in the Des Moines area. In this cycle Romney took 30,015 votes, whereas in 2008 he received 30,012. Four years ago, Mitt Romney (23.3 percent) finished behind Mike Huckabee (35.8 percent) in Iowa, winning counties along the eastern and western borders, plus the large Dallas County in suburban Des Moines. Aside from two other counties, Huckabee won the rest of the state (map here). On Tuesday (map here), Rick Santorum stole counties from Romney in the West, while Ron Paul stole counties from the former governor in the East. Santorum captured five of Romney’s seven western counties from 2008, while Paul captured five of Romney’s 14 eastern counties. In the eastern quarter of Iowa, Romney underperformed his 2008 totals in Winnishiek, Jackson, and Allamakee, and Delaware, finishing second to Paul in each, after winning those counties in 2008. He placed third in Clayton and Cedar. http://abcn.ws/xSdaVo

OBAMA COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. A senior Obama campaign official e-mails The Note: “A day after predicting victory and after 6 years of trying to win Iowa, Mitt Romney was unable to reach the same margin of the vote he received in 2008 among a Republican field widely recognized as weak.  It was a poor performance from a candidate who did everything possible to win – even sacrificing principles to become the self-professed Tea Party candidate and to get to the right of Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. Regardless of what happens in New Hampshire or any state after that, he’s leaving Iowa with significant primary baggage that will weigh him down should he make it to the general election, from promising to veto the DREAM Act, to calling the payroll tax cut a “little bandaid” while only offering the typical middle class family a $54 dollar tax cut, to promising to privatize Medicare and to let foreclosures “hit the bottom” he committed to a litany of tea party positions that are out of step with general election swing voters. Mitt Romney lost support among independents – Ron Paul got triple the support among independents as Mitt Romney.   And he lost support among middle class voters.  The group he led was those voters who have reservations about their candidate It’s clear that Mitt Romney’s own party has serious doubts about his candidacy.  But general election voters will have serious reservations about the positions he has committed to during the primary.”

RON PAUL VOWS TO FIGHT ON. ABC’s Jason Volack reports: An exuberant Ron Paul vowed to continue to fight on to New Hampshire despite placing third tonight in the Iowa caucuses. Although Paul’s campaign said earlier today that he fully expected to place first or second, Paul is accepting what he calls one of three tickets out of Iowa. “Believe me, this momentum is going to continue, and this movement is going to continue,” Paul said to hundreds of cheering supporters packed in an Ankeny, Iowa, hotel ballroom, adding that he is one of two candidates who can run a national campaign and raise the money needed, putting himself in company with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The Texas congressman said his strong showing tonight was thanks in part to his non-interventionist foreign policy positions, which he said were catching on with a majority of Americans who want to pull out of Afghanistan. http://abcn.ws/xFzrPl

MCCAIN TO ENDORSE ROMNEY. A scoop from BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith: Arizona Senator John McCain, his party’s 2008 nominee, will endorse Mitt Romney in New Hampshire [today], a well-placed former McCain aide told BuzzFeed Tuesday. McCain and Romney were bitter foes in 2008, but Romney repaired the relationship after his defeat with a season of determined campaigning for his former rival. The endorsement will offer the Romney campaign a pivot point after the virtual tie with Senator Rick Santorum in Iowa, and a growing impression that the former governor is uniting the party behind him. McCain is unlikely, however, to appeal to the conservative Republicans who are skeptical of both men, and may even intensify the alienation of a vocal group of grassroots conservatives.” http://bit.ly/AboqRU

OBAMA SETS SIGHTS ON OHIO IN POST-CAUCUS PUSH. “After a Hawaiian holiday hiatus, President Obama resumes his campaign to claim the mantle of ‘warrior for the middle class’ with a speech here today, wasting no time after the Iowa Caucus to put his mark on the national political debate,” ABC’s Devin Dwyer notes. “Visiting a suburban high school where he held a town hall meeting about his health care reform push two and a half years ago, Obama will chart his course into the polarized political landscape of 2012, highlighting a philosophical divide with Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail, a theme he first rolled out last fall. Obama will redouble ‘his commitment to do everything he can as president, working with Congress and independently from Congress, to grow the economy and create jobs, to protect the middle class, to expand it and to make the middle class more accessible to those who aspire to it,’ White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday.” http://abcn.ws/yp9mDV

AN EARLY LOOK AT THE NEW HAMPSHIRE BALLOT. “The Granite State hosts the first voting contest that will award delegates to the GOP presidential candidates, as well as the first in the nation voting contest that will use a ballot,” reports ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield. “That ballot is not short on names. The New Hampshire Secretary of State released sample ballots for next week’s primary for both the Republican and Democratic parties, and they  total 30 Republicans - a record high for the state’s Republican ballot — and 14 Democrats, according to Secretary of State Bill Gardner. The Republican ballot includes seven leading GOP contenders as well as seven others challenging for attention. Some of the additional names may look familiar. For example, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who is now seeking the libertarian party’s nomination, former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, and Fred Karger, a political consultant and gay rights activist, are some of the individuals listed.” http://abcn.ws/x8FQLr

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@rickklein: Best case scenario for Huntsman last night. If you want to argue Iowa doesn’t matter, a muddle works well for you.

 @mattklewis: @David Brody is exactly right. Santorum has to be careful to avoid his jerky side. Can’t have the media as enemies.

@DavidMDrucker: What is the # 8 ? … Well, it’s not the # of hours of sleep I got.

 @globeglen: MITT ROMNEY: Political Intelligence analysis of last night’s caucus results… bo.st/AiVjJD

 @AKaczynski1: Is Newt campaign in Perry mode? Downhill decline, but money left over from “surge.” Staying in until money runs out coupled with big loss?

 

DISPATCHES FROM THE TRAIL. Check out our new political website OTUSNews.com (www.Otusnews.com) The Note (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/the-note/) and ABC News/Politics (http://abcnews.go.com/politics) and follow our reporters in the field on Twitter:

 

Michele Bachmann: ABC’s Russell Goldman (@GoldmanRussell)

Newt Gingrich: ABC’s Elicia Dover (@EliciaDover)

Jon Huntsman and New Hampshire: ABC’s Susan Archer (@TheOnlyArcher)

Ron Paul: ABC’s Jason Volack (@Jason_Volack)

Rick Perry: ABC’s Arlette Saenz (@ArletteSaenz)

Mitt Romney: ABC’s Emily Friedman (@EmilyABC)

Rick Santorum and Iowa: ABC’s Shushannah Walshe (@shushwalshe)

 

Check out The Note’s Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV

 

* Get The Note delivered to your inbox every day.

* For breaking political news and analysis check out The Note blog: http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/and ABCNews.com/Politics: http://abcnews.com/politics

 

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus