Romney's Iowa Victory Map: Rivals Stole '08 Counties, but Des Moines Decided It

How did Mitt Romney win 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.

In western Iowa, Romney placed second to Santorum in Woodbury, Harrison, Montgomery, and Monona - all counties he won in 2008. In Ida, he finished fifth.

Romney made up for those losses by winning the large Polk and Story counties near Des Moines, which he lost to Huckabee in 2008, and by adding to his total in Dallas County.

After losing both Polk and Story counties to Huckabee in 2008, Romney won both in 2012, besting Paul 28.4 percent to 22.6 percent in Polk and 26.1 percent to 25.9 percent in Story. And after winning Dallas County with 31.8 percent of the vote in 2008, Romney upped his total to 33.3 in 2012.

In total, Romney lost 13 of the 24 counties he won in 2008 - seven to Santorum and six to Paul. He won six in 2012 that had voted for Huckabee four years ago.