Nail-biter opens Republican contest

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with his family behind him during his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday Mitt Romney: his family are behind him, but how many Republican voters are as enthusiastic?

This was a nail-biter. One American commentator suggested we needed a new image - "tighter than a new tube sock on a cow" was his offering.

But this is not one of those elections where one vote matters, because a win by one vote is still a win, because you earn some job at the end of it. You can talk about first and second place if you like, but this was a tie. The Iowa caucus is all about perception and momentum, not fractions of percentage points.

There is no doubt this is a personal triumph for Santorum. He had worked so hard, with so little reward. But on the night it mattered the voters turned out.

If you want to be cruel you could suggest that the Santorum surge was different in only one respect to the rise of all the other "anti-Mitts". Bachmann, Perry, Cain and Newt all had their turn briefly pushing Romney into second place or chasing him hard. Santorum has just been lucky that his surge came so late that it coincided with an actual vote.

In the end this result has to be good for Romney. He's achieved this in a state he hadn't bothered to fight until the last few weeks, where he didn't have much of a campaign.

But it also underscores his problem. He can't break away from the pack. There is deep uncertainty about him among conservative voters, and a complete lack of passion or enthusiasm for him. What happens if he never has a clear-cut, open-and-shut victory?

Time and again in Iowa I spoke to committed Republicans who didn't want Mitt to be the candidate, but thought that he would end up winning, and they would grudgingly support him. Like them, I think that is what will happen. If he does win like that it is not the best way to go into a general election.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

East-West conflict set to run and run

The current dispute between Russia and the EU is not likely to be resolved any time soon, says Mark Mardell.

Read full article

More on This Story

US Presidential Election 2012


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Try googling "santorum"...

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Watching US politics is the most convincing argument against those in the UK's(mostly foreign owned) media who keep repeating the mantra that the UK has more in common with the US than we have with Europe.
    Another Republican President, drawn from what's on offer here, will complete the dissolution of the so-called 'special relationship'.
    Let's see who Cameron sucks up to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    All for All (17),

    “European tax-payers are bailing out failed European banks to save financial embarrassment of US banks ...”

    You are mistaken. The European taxpayers are bailing out European banks that purchased Sovereign Debt from sellers who default on their promises to repay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The highest that Ron Paul rose in any poll I saw was 24%. After a two week bombardment from the neocon right and the left using every innuendo and association, he still managed to garner 21% of the vote even though the media had been simultaneously pumping up Romney and Santorum all week. Paul received the most votes in the 17-39 age group. Watch for son Rand Paul in 2016!

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    powermeerkat @13
    moral high ground?

    European tax-payers are bailing out failed European banks to save financial embarrassment of US banks who - in furtherance of geopolitical strategies built on the sands of unreformed capitalism - 'helpfully' sold unwise insurances against default

    Easy for Right 'honest Right' to attack Left 'hypocritical Right'

    Ever thought of change?

    Chris Hedges a START

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The reason Ron Paul is not talked about much by national media is because he's been running for President since 1988 and never gotten higher than 5% of the national vote. Yes. he has some sensible ideas about cutting the deficit, yes, if he was in Europe he would be the head of a strong third-party but neither of those things matter. He's not going to be President, accept it.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    On the Austrian Radio website I read that two openly anti-semitic people were appointed to senior positiond in the Hungarian natuional theatre last year.

    There appears to be nowhere on the Europe pages where I can share this information with others and express my concerns about being in a political union with these people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    "Debts have to be repaid. Soon there will be a dollar crisis if things don't change over there."

    I would be much more concerned about a survival of euro in which many of the same people who wanted to see US$'s demise - saw a "new reserve world currency".

    We shall see in the next 6-12 months.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Keep in mind that the Iowa caucuses are not binding. In 2008, Senator McCain almost skipped Iowa, stopping in just before the vote for so he could say he had appeared there. He placed fourth.

    Nine months later, when Republicans selected delegates, he won 40 of the state’s 40 delegates.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Since, according to statistics, majority of American voters look hard at issues and make up their minds two weeks before an actual election I would encourage restraint.

    Particularly that Republicans are going to nominate their presidential candidate only in August.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    This must been seen in it's wider context. Many voters now feel that the old Left/Right battles they thought they were fighting were a myth; that both parties are for big government, moderate social policies, aggressive interventionism abroad and support for big business. The Democrat response has been to accept this and fight for electoral victory; the Republican's seem to have not yet decided.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Mitt will prevail in the long slog to the nomination. The evangelicals and Tea Party faction can stay home, or launch another candidate, or decide they will do their best to defeat Obama. The more rancour and division in the Republican party, the more motivation for floating voters to see them for what they are, no alternative for the vast majority of the citizens.

    Obama to win, regardless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The Republicans need a lightning rod like Bill Clinton to win the Presidential Election - a man with ideas and the ability to effectively communicate his ideas to the Electorate. Is Mr Romney such a candidate? It does not seem so........yet!
    So far it seems that Mr Obama maybe lucky to not have a Republican lightning rod against him who can win an Election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    1 - But watriler, I thought you had a soft spot for Paul. Is there no likelihood he can widen his appeal to older voters? And I don't think he's particularly religious is he?

    One further point: might Romney's membership of the CJCLDS (Mormons) prejudice some US taxpayers against him in view of his obligation to pay one tenth of his income (from said taxpayers) to his church?

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I can't say that I have a candidate that I want to win, but I certainly can say that the world does not need a US president that thinks that "intelligent design" is science. So I will be cheering for anyone who beats Santorum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I hope Ron Paul wins the nomination. The US is the biggest debtor nation in the HISTORY of MANKIND. Debts have to be repaid. Soon there will be a dollar crisis if things don't change over there. I see the BBC doesn't mention him much on their coverage is that because they don't see him as a credible candidate? ..even though he came in third, only 3% off the tied first two positions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Hi, I have just been reading the blog.
    Slight error on the BBC behalf..its DR RON PAUL NOT MR PAUL!!!
    Just thought I would bring that up because you normally have a big emphasis on titles eg LORD SUGAR!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Apparently Santorum who finished only 6 votes behind Romney has the backing of so-called 'born agains' and evangelicals. A bit scary that. His name is uncannily similar to sanitorium where, it would appear, many in Iowa who voted for this guy belong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Iowa and caucus do not represent who is going to vote in the election. not much of the voting public participates. A majority there is not Romney's base.

    He won or tied and he is going to win NH and he is getting the endorsement from the man most independents know they should have voted for John McCain


Page 7 of 8



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.