I’m tired of reading press coverage on the GOP race – it’s all slanted, purposefully misleading, or perhaps in a best case scenario, totally ignorant. But I did think there was some interesting information in the Iowa Entrance Polls that the Average Joe may not have checked out. I got them from CNN here: http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/primaries/epolls/ia
Now, I’m no political expert or talking head (and have zero desire to be), but I had some thoughts when I looked at those numbers, so I’m tossing out a few opinions here.
First, a few preliminary things:
- Perry and Bachmann continued the “poor showing” theme leading Bachmann to call it quits and Perry to either “reassess” or power on to SC, depending on what moment you catch him. But has he ever known what he was doing in the first place? Oops!
- Gingrich isn’t going anywhere, of course, because even though he’s in a freefall, he’ll keep hanging around like a bad stench, which is his raison d’être.
- For some reason the media is still talking about Jon Huntsman with his 1%. Who’s that, you say? Well, he’s busy campaigning in New Hampshire, hoping to pull a Santorum there. Maybe he will! Ooooh-hooo! And then the Republicans could have another candidate to talk about who will promptly fall by the wayside two weeks later.
Now, the new “top tier” is Romney, Santorum, and Paul:
- Rick Santorum? Are you kidding me? Surely no one is taking him seriously. He’s just the current Johnny-come-lately to make Republicans hope they’re not going to be stuck with Romney. Please note these stats: More than 90% of Santorum-supporters in Iowa chose him within the “last few days” or “in December.” In other words, he spent a lot of time and money doing a last minute push in Iowa to get his name out there, and the wishy-washy voters who hadn’t chosen a candidate took the bait. Support that drops out of nowhere goes nowhere.
- Mitt Romney. He’s the candidate Republicans hate and the one they’re probably gonna get. 48% of the people who voted for him did so chiefly because of a belief that he can defeat Obama. (I highly doubt it.) Romney also got the highest percentage (29%) of voters who chose him with reservations (because, like I said, Republicans don’t even like the guy). Oh, and here’s something for all of you 99%-types. Guess who got the highest percentage of votes from the folks who make $100K+? Yes, that’s right. Romney. They’re right to vote for him, of course, because he’ll take the money they slip to his campaign and turn it around in tax breaks and bailouts and other questionable financial dealings if he’s elected. Also worth noting is that, while Romney is the obvious front-runner (Santorum supporters celebrating their 8-vote margin are delusional), he’s still not getting the support he wants and needs out of Republicans at large. It’s sad when a guy with no chance (Santorum) can run a two-week campaign that catches up with a guy who should be blowing him out of the water.
- Ron Paul. Somehow he’s still persona non grata to the media, but the Iowa votes indicate he’s definitely still in the game and gaining ground. (I can only imagine how much his message would catch fire across the country if only the media would let people hear about it.) Paul more than doubled the number of Iowa votes he secured in 2008, while Romney’s number was almost the same. So, Romney is still as popular (and as unpopular) as he was 4 years ago, but Paul’s support has doubled. Paul’s percentages last night also indicate that he’s the frontrunner among voters ages 18-39 (with a HUGE advantage among voters under 29), and the candidate preferred by voters with less than $50K in income (even more among voters with less than $30K). Another obvious Paul stronghold? Voters who made up their minds before December. Ron Paul voters aren’t impressed with ad campaigns (that’s another stat on the chart), they’re not beholden to the media (otherwise they wouldn’t know who he is), and they’re the most prominent group to “strongly favor” their chosen candidate. Ron Paul supporters aren’t interested in which way the wind blows; they are looking for a candidate with substance and integrity who knows his mind and doesn’t change it depending on what group he’s talking to at the time. Here’s hoping there’s something to that old adage of “slow and steady wins the race.”
What else the stats say about Ron Paul:
- He outscored the rest of the field among voters who deemed the most important quality in a candidate to be that he was a “true conservative.” He also blew the other candidates out of the water in shoring up the voters with a moderate or liberal ideology. So… what now? Voters who want a true conservative in office have picked Ron Paul as their man. And voters who identify themselves as moderate or liberal ALSO picked Ron Paul? It would certainly seem that he’s able to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters – voters who probably recognize that he’s conservative on matters that call for it (like when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars), and he’s (gasp!) liberal when it comes to keeping the government’s big fat nose out of matters that should be none of its business. I’m guessing that also means that Democrats who voted for “hope” and “change” and got a same ol’, same ol’ Republicrat in the last election would consider casting their votes for Ron Paul as well.
- Rick Santorum got a whopping 58% of his votes from folks who pinpointed Abortion as their “most important issue.” I keep hoping the pro-life crowd will figure out that abortion is just a talking point that Republicans use to get elected, and then they never actually follow through to do anything about it. Ron Paul doesn’t say much about abortion, because he has been busy predicting the housing collapse, trying to illuminate the problem with the budget deficit, decrying expensive wars over nothing (and refusing to incite yet another one with Iran), and putting up a fight against politicians who are railroading the Constitution at every turn. However, I doubt it’s even possible to find a candidate (certainly in this race, and probably in politics as a whole) who has been more consistently pro-life AND consistently doing something about it as Ron Paul. And if his name was actually out there, and the voters knew what he was all about, the “issues” voters who choose based on abortion stance, health care, etc. would LOVE Dr. Paul.
This race has been so crazy, it’s hard to guess what will happen next. Maybe after New Hampshire everyone will be talking about Jon Huntsman like he’s the second coming and it’ll be “Santorum-who?” again. But whatever shenanigans are going on, I’m expecting Romney to maintain his same level of begrudging support, and I bet we’ll see Ron Paul continue his climb to the chagrin of the media and the clueless GOP brass. And I’ll be stuck between being cynical and desperately clinging to hope.