Did Rick Santorum Really Win Iowa?

Did Rick Santorum really win Iowa? The allegation has been leaking out for days now, but there are growing rumblings that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may not have won — which means he didn’t make history by winning Iowa and New Hampshire. Here’s part of John Avlon’s must-read-in-full post on The Daily Beast:

Did Rick Santorum win the Iowa caucus?

That’s what it looks like if numbers from a caucus in the town of Moulton, Appanoose County, are correctly counted when the official certification begins Wednesday night.

This not only would rewrite the election history of 2012 to date—it would invalidate the oft-repeated line that Mitt Romney is the only candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. It would stop the inevitability narrative in its tracks.

This possibility has the Iowa state GOP under new scrutiny as they begin the official certification process, which they have promised to complete by the end of the week.

The national media to date has largely dismissed this story—which was first reported by local Des Moines station KCCI—apparently choosing to trust the state GOP’s initial off-the-record assurances that the story had zero credibility.

But multiple sources—including local county GOP officials—have now confirmed that the initial precinct numbers from Moulton were incorrect. And even the state party is no longer contesting the fact that at least 20 votes were misallocated to Mitt Romney, casting his eight-vote margin in question unless an even larger number of errors breaks his way.

Here’s what we know happened.

Go to the link to read Avlon’s original reporting on this story which adds to the feeling that sometime in the future it could be announced that Romney didn’t win Iowa after all.

And does it matter? Avlon:

It does matter a lot. Already, Romney’s electability narrative is centered on the argument that he is the only candidate to have ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire—causing some commentators to say that the nomination battle is all but over, despite only two states having held elections. It takes 1,143 delegates to win the Republican nomination, and to date Romney has just over 20, so the sanguine sense that the Iowa delegate count is likely to remain the same even if the popular vote count changes doesn’t cut it on the credibility front.

Media momentum matters disproportionately in the current system of nominating presidents that we have in place. If the wrong man is declared the winner, even temporarily, it has wide-reaching implications that can’t be entirely undone when the record is corrected. And if Romney is still declared the ultimate winner—as state party officials seem unsettlingly sure he will be despite the votes still coming in—it will be because even greater inaccuracies were found in his favor, doing little to increase confidence in the Iowa caucus after months of anticipatory coverage.

If this coupled with Romney flat-footedness in his response to the Bain Capital charges by his foes, his bungling of his income tax return issue, and his comment that he didn’t make all that much from speaking fees (just love $300,000 per speech — I and MANY Americans wish we could make as “little” money as that in a year..) and it could suggest Romney will go into the general (if he is nominated) a flawed candidate (the longing for Jeb Bush and Chris Christie will continue). Will Obama & Co have to bring on extra staff to hand the slew of campaign ads they could turn out given the material Romney is inadvertently giving them?

Graphic via shutterstock.com

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  • http://wideeyedandreal.blogspot.com ProfElwood

    Just so no one get conspiratorial or anything, it really doesn’t make much difference: first, because it was a caucus, with the real delegates will be chosen months later, and second, because the caucus delegates are split up. It’s not winner-take-all.

  • RP

    ProfElwood..In the nomination process, you are correct. It doesn’t matter.

    But in the world of money and influence, this means a great deal. Romney receives alot of attention for basically coming in with a tie with Santorum, in a state where he was not expected to do contest for the win, then wins NH and where does all the money start flowing?

    Anyone that wants to be heard in a Romney administration begins sending money to his campaign, making it much harder for Santorum or Gingrich to raise money.

    And money buys influence. Those with it want it to go to the candidate that will eventually become the nominee.

    So in a country where Super Tuesday was the date any state that wanted to influence the nomination process, it is now in the hands of three states, IW, NH and SC. If you do not do well in these three, the money dries up and so goes your candidacy. Super Tuesday is now an after thought.

  • http://wideeyedandreal.blogspot.com ProfElwood

    I just think that most people see this as a virtual tie, so this isn’t the same as the Florida election.

  • bluebelle

    It absolutely did provide a boost for the Romney campaign who was expected to lose Iowa.
    After New Hampshire, Romney was seen as the inevitable nominee.

  • Brewhouse Jack

    Super Tuesday for some time now has been the defining “moment” for the nomination contests. (Obama became a candidate for real when he beat Clinton on Super Tuesday.)

    It may be now that the first three contests, long before Super Tuesday, are decisive. In this sense it’s no surprise; the campaigns are simply beginning earlier than ever nowadays, this time before the election year. (Campaigning in earnest begun well before the end of 2011, not this year, 2012, the election year.

    ( *** Just realize that a good deal of the early resolution of the GOP contest is due to the poor quality of the field or of the candidates! *** )

    What this means, is interesting:

    Will other states try to have their primaries earlier and will some try to have them earlier than Iowa or New Hampshire? No state may say they may be earlier than any other state; their scope of authority ends at state lines. “Two men [can] say they’re Jesus; one of them must be wrong.” Ultimately this may require a resolution by the federal government or by (preferably) party leadership.

    RP or others have commented before about reforming the primaries, and I’ve thought for a long time about “rotating” different sets of states among different successive primary dates in a schedule, front-loading the schedule with smaller states so they have influence rather than become trivial or negligeable. (We also have to require all states to award delegates in proportion to votes won, rather than go winner-take-all, which the small states feel they must do to remain relevant.)

    There’s a different way, though — what about the following, instead, involving primaries nation-wide. What about a series of nation-wide primaries that would feature approval voting, where the first would be an “open” primary to all party members, and then the following primaries (a few) would be a set of successively narrowed ones, weeding out candidates stage by stage? Why not start with any number of candidates or a high limit, say ten candidates? In this and a set of following primaries, voters would vote for one-half the number (if an odd number, the greater of the two central values — 5 of 9, 4 of 7, 3 of 5, 2 of 3), and the losers in each stage would be removed from campaign eligibility for that party? One or two or how many ever people remaining after these series of winnowing primaries would go to the convention and if desired, a final decision made who wins the nomination.

    That’s probably too sensible ever to happen.

  • StockBoyLA

    What really flabbergasted me was RIck Santorum’s response on caucus night and the day after, when he was told votes were moving and he could be the winner and whether or not he wanted a recount. He said he wasn’t worried about it. That he had talked with GOP officials and that they had assured him everything was fine. Rick was willing to let it go at that…. Not interested in a recount at all. I mean how do we expect Rick Santorum, if he was president, to stand up for the United States of America when he won’t even stand up for himself? Will he just as easily roll over if Russia or China tells him not to worry about their nuclear arms, that everything will be alright if they can just build a few more?

    Either one stands up for one’s interests, and if you’re elected president one stands up for America’s interests, or one does not. It’s really telling of Rick’s character that he won’t even stand up for his own interests and he lets others tell him what to do.

  • The_Ohioan

    StockBoy

    My impression is that all these candidates – without exception – are positioning themselves for 2016. They don’t really think they have a chance either against Romney or Obama.

    My further impression is that all those potential candidates that didn’t enter the race this year didn’t because they don’t see anyone beating Obama in 2012. They are keeping their powder dry until 2016 – that’s Christie, Bush, etc.

    Or it could be this:

    http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2012/jan/17/republican-talent-lies-low/

  • StockBoyLA

    The Ohioan: if the candidates are positioning themselves for 2016, all the more reason for them to stand up for their own interests. Besides the candidates certainly seem to be taking it seriously. If they’re not taking it seriously then why on Earth should anyone (including Republicans) vote for them?

    If the GOP presidential candidates aren’t taking the race seriously, then this country needs to find a GOP candidate who will take it seriously. Maybe I should switch parties and run as a Republican. My platform, “Taking America’s Problems Seriously”.

    Anyway, thanks.

  • http://wideeyedandreal.blogspot.com ProfElwood

    @StockboyLA
    Unless several thousand votes were miscounted, no delegates would be changed. As best as I can tell (there were a lot of conflicting reports), the top three all got the same number of delegates.