Romney Edges Santorum By 8 Vote Margin in Iowa

By Jared Edgerton, Contributing Writer

Weeks–maybe even days–ago it seemed impossible that Senator Rick Santorum would finish as a top tier candidate in the Iowa caucus. Tuesday night, the Senator delivered a tremendous blow to conventional wisdom by finishing second to Governor Mitt Romney by just 8 votes. His second place finish came despite spending a fraction of the money as his opponents.

As far as the expectations game, Santorum was declared the winner almost universally by political observers.

Senator Santorum statistically tied Governor Romney garnering 25 percent of the vote–the 25 percent victory is the lowest ever gathered by a winner of the Iowa caucus.

Senator Santorum’s strong finish can be attributed to his support among evangelicals. He gathered 34 percent of the evangelical vote versus Governor Romney’s 14 percent.

Addressing a large crowd Santorum struck a religious tone, declaring:

“I survived the challenges so far by the daily grace that comes from God. For giving me his grace everyday–warts and all–I owe a pubic grace to God…[also] thank you so much Iowa. You, by standing up, and not compromising..and leading with that burden and responsibility to be bold, have taken the first step to taking back this country.”

Many credit Santorum’s surge to his aggressive campaigning in the Hawkeye state – he was the first candidate to visit all 99 counties – or if he is the latest candidate to catch the “anyone but Governor Romney wave.”

The only question that remains is will Senator Santorum be able to capitalize on the second place finish. John Baer, from the Philadelphia Inquirer, had some harsh words, writing:

“Yes, he [Santorum] finished in the top tier of Tuesday night’s Iowa caucuses (he was narrowly leading at press time). But this is the most overcovered non-event in modern American politics and predictive of nothing. Past top-tier finishers were Mike Huckabee, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson.”

Consensus seems to be the next few days will be crucial for Santorum. He is currently polling in the low single digits for national polls. Governor Rick Perry’s decision to “reassess” his campaign could free up some social conservative voters. If Congresswoman Michele Bachmann joins Governor Perry it will also be a boost for the Santorum campaign.

Whether Santorum will be able to muster the organizational strength in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Politico takes a look at Santorum’s “Reality Check” here.

January 4th, 2012 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Presidential, Top Stories | No Comments