The most important number on Tuesday night in Iowa wasn’t eight—the miniscule margin by which Mitt Romney edged out Rick Santorum for first place. It was 3,255—the negligible estimated increase in turnout over the 2008 GOP caucuses. Given the sizable number of independents —23 percent of the total—who showed up to (mostly) vote for third-place finisher Ron Paul, it looks like fewer Iowa Republicans actually voted this year. To say the least, this complicates one of the most popular story lines about 2012—that Republicans are simply wild to unseat President Barack Obama and that the Democrats are facing a serious “enthusiasm gap” against their fired-up foes. (In fact, a Gallup poll in December already began to puncture this myth.)
So They Say
Daily Meme: Spin Cycle
What We're Writing
- Patrick Caldwell reports from Iowa on Santorum, Romney, and the battle for the GOP’s soul.
- In New Hampshire, Harold Meyerson beholds “the wrath of Newt.”
What We're Reading
- Driven, patrician, and distant: a profile of the real Mitt Romney
- Santorum is the Republicans’ idea of fun.
- Perry is bitter about “loosey-goosey” caucuses and independent voters.
- John McCain endorses Romney in New Hampshire.
- Romney gets a grilling.
- Instant Nostalgia Department: Bachmann’s Greatest Hits
- Was Obama the winner in Iowa?
Poll of the Day
Rasmussen’s latest tracking shows Obama trailing a generic Republican, 47 percent to 43 percent.