What Happened in Iowa -
Governor Huckabee rallied two critical grass roots groups, the evangelical Christians with their home schooling networks, and the fair tax advocates. As to the evangelicals, some interesting statistics can be found here and here. In summary, the turnout for the Republican Iowa Caucus was nearly 50% higher than the previous Caucus with a 125,000 record turn out. It was expected that the turnout would be about 75,000-80,000 with the unknown being the evangelical and fair tax groups. Had such been the case, Mitt would have won Iowa with his stable and strong support. It wasn't to be. Of the 35% that voted for Mike Huckabee, 80% claimed the label of evangelical Christians. Upon further inquiry, a large majority of the evangelicals stated that the most important measure of the candidate was whether his faith and religion were aligned with theirs. Mitt being Mormon was catalytic to their rally around Mike. They further indicated that only 7% felt Governor Huckabee was electable and only 10% felt he had the necessary leadership experience to be POTUS. Unfortunately, a very sad commentary on the failings of the Iowa evangelicals, that they would vote principally on the basis of religion. I must say, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my support of Governor Romney is first and foremost on his character, leadership, experience and competency, while appreciating, albeit nominally that he is LDS. Surely, I wouldn't vote for Harry Reid or even Orrin Hatch because they are members of my faith.
An interesting statistic quoted in The Corner, of the non-evangelical vote, Mike Huckabee took 4th among the Republican candidates, an indication of where he will stand in New Hampshire and in most states. It was apparent with the turnout that in spite of good and solid support for Governor Romney, he couldn't overcome the ignorant voting practices of the dominant evangelical community. Even so, it has been written that not all evangelicals take to the same course of the Iowa evangelical community, which may bode poorly for Governor Huckabee in other religious settings. Surely he will try.
What Does Iowa Mean -
Given the measure of impact by a singular group of religious voters, the results in Iowa are of little consequence to Governor Romney. He won the votes of the issues based voters in Iowa and is the only Republican candidate who is competitive in all early states and nationally. Some other interesting statistics:
- No Republican who finished lower than 3rd place in the Iowa Caucus has gone on to win the party's nomination. Only once (1988) did a third-place finisher (George HW Bush) go on to win the nomination. (Doesn't bode well for Rudy)
- No candidate who finished with less than 18% of the vote at the Iowa Caucuses has ever won the nomination (also 1988). (Doesn't bode well for Fred or John)
- George HW Bush lost the 1988 Caucus by 20,467 votes (19%) yet went on to win the nomination. Ronald Reagan lost the Iowa Caucus by 2,182 votes (2.1%) yet won the nomination. (Bodes well for Mitt)
As noted above, Governor Romney is the only Republican candidate that is competitive in all early state primaries/caucuses. An interesting analysis by the political wonks offers further credence to Mitt Romney's campaign and his electability (see below).
Mitt Romney is competitive in all states and has a deep well of financial resource, both from donors and his personal wealth to engage a national campaign. He is the only candidate who represents the Reagan Coalition of a strong military, strong economy and strong families, in spite of Ed Rollins (Huckabee's campaign chairman) stating the Reagan Coalition is dead. Mitt is the only candidate with significant and successful leadership experience in private, philanthropic and government enterprise. Although criticized for his personal self made wealth, I want a candidate who has succeeded on principles of integrity, intelligence and hard work. Mitt Romney represents the agent of change to fix Washington without being inside Washington. Mitt Romney surrounds himself with bright and intelligent people to lead teams and execute on strategic initiatives that he and his team develop.
John McCain is out of money and is borrowing heavily to stay in the race, and is further considering matching funds which all but sinks his ability to compete in a general election; John McCain is only competitive in New Hampshire and it has become his firewall; John McCain is currently leading in the New Hampshire polls (within the margin of error), but is without a strategy beyond New Hampshire; John McCain benefited from Huckabee's Iowa victory, but was counter punched with Obama's win, as the Independent and Democratic moderates will likely vote Democratic in New Hampshire rather than rally to McCain, a source of his strong polls. A great American, but not a great Republican (gang of 14). And let's not forget the Keating Five, which causes some consternation on ethical lapses. John McCain has poorly managed and led his Presidential Campaign.
Rudy Giuliani is lagging seriously in all early state elections and has very little money to engage a national campaign; Rudy Giuliani, albeit strong on executive experience, has been challenged with ethical and judgment issues; Rudy Giuliani does not reflect social conservative values or principles; Rudy Giuliani left New York City in financial disarray, as stated by Michael Bloomberg, with a deficit exceeding $2 billion - Rudy is not a fiscal conservative. Rudy Giuliani has not surrounded himself with strong leadership and has governed as mayor in a self absorbed and dictatorial fashion.
Mike Huckabee is a social conservative but a moderate to liberal advocate on fiscal and foreign policy matters; Mike Huckabee's gubernatorial service was fraught with ethical violations, significant growth of the Arkansas government and fiscal budgetary expansion of greater than 100%; Mike Huckabee is ignorant to foreign policy matters and appears to inform his policies with what he reads in the newspapers, when he reads them. Not very intelligent, but politically astute, Mike Huckabee has not selected or surrounded himself with bright leadership. In fact, he has chosen Ed Rollins to chair his campaign - not much else need be said. Mike Huckabee, albeit affable, has little to offer other than quaint phrases and well-timed humorous punchlines - He is not well informed on matters of critical importance and thus not fit to lead our nation. Mike Huckabee is running for President as a Christian, not as a leader who happens to be a Christian, there is a stark difference. Mike Huckabee is without significant financial resources to carry his campaign beyond New Hampshire or South Carolina.
Fred Thompson is a consistent conservative, a good actor, and was an average Senator. Fred Thompson doesn't have the financial resources to continue his campaign and is in effect broke. Without any leadership experience, Fred Thompson is firm in his convictions and Federalist policies. Likeable and deliberate in thought, Fred Thompson seems to be running a vanity campaign rather than a campaign to serve our nation. Not very well spoken, nor energetic, Fred Thompson seems to be a mediocre candidate with little to show of success other than his career in Hollywood. Too casual for me, and I believe for most Americans.
With the above comparative, Mitt Romney presses forward as he stated, having finished the first of fifty innings. He is in it to win and is the most credible and viable candidate to lead the Republican Party. Does he need to win New Hampshire? Not necessarily. Although a win would be nice, a strong finish is what matters. Ultimately, the Republican race for President will distill down to two candidates, Mitt Romney and either John McCain (if he garners momentum out of New Hampshire) or Rudy Giuliani (if he can hang on until February 5th as he will be out of the media and Presidential dialog until then).
Mitt needs the continued support, both financially and politically, of each of us. I solicit your support on his behalf and look with anticipation to the nomination on September 4th in Minnesota.