For most Americans, the state of Iowa holds little excitement. If we think about it at all, we probably conjure up images of corn, cows, and more corn. However, Iowa becomes the center of intense media frenzy every four years, when either the Republican or Democratic Party holds its annual caucus. On January 3, Mitt Romney narrowly made it to first place over his fellow Republican candidates by a mere eight votes.
Winning the Iowa caucus can make or break the viability of a candidate’s campaign to become the presidential nominee for his or her party. Four years ago, a junior senator from Illinois appeared to come out of nowhere when he emerged as a victor of Iowa’s caucus. That candidate was of course Barack Obama, and his subsequent victory over Hillary Clinton overturned the assumption that the primaries would serve as a mere formality for Clinton’s nomination. Although Mitt Romney’s narrow victory did not come as much of a surprise, the second place finisher did. Rick Santorum, the Evangelical candidate with a winning smile, was that candidate.
Before his Iowa victory, Santorum was a mere blurb on the political radar. While Santorum is a former senator from South Carolina, most Americans are probably not that familiar with the candidate. His near tie with Romney seems to have been made possible by the one-on-one nature of the Iowa caucus. The politician, like Santorum, who can knock on enough doors and hold enough gatherings in small town diners often has as good of a chance as someone like Romney, who flooded Iowans with
advertisements and robocalls instead.
Almost as surprising in the caucus were the third and fourth place finishers. The radical libertarian, Ron Paul, beat the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Just a few weeks ago, most polls ranked Gingrich as the winner of Iowa itself. Incidentally, a few months ago Gingrich’s campaign seemed to be an utter flop, but that is neither here nor there. Most political analysts don’t see Paul duplicating his strong finish in Iowa, despite a loyal following.
Rick Perry came in fifth place, followed by Michelle Bachman, who recently dropped out of the race. The next election will take place in New Hampshire.