Even on past occasions when the result of the Iowa caucuses appeared to be an aberration—and whether eight votes divides relevance from irrelevance this year remains to be seen—it has set the tenor of the subsequent campaign. Four years ago, both Democrats and Republicans had a sense of voting for something (which itself was an aberration), with Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama representing the prospect of new national possibilities to different people in different ways. It’s hard to imagine how Tuesday’s result could establish more viscerally the sense of people voting against something.
While officials in other states struggled to balance their budgets in 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly closed a deficit of historic proportions one month early, agreeing on a mix of tax hikes and union concessions. That topped a list of unmatched legislative accomplishments: Connecticut passed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, a transgender-rights bill, a major genetic research initiative, a bipartisan job-growth package, and the nation’s first paid sick-leave mandate.
ADEL, IOWA—Caucus chair Jon McAvoy faced an awkward situation right before his townsfolk were set to vote. Surrogates for each candidate—save still-on-the-ballot Herman Cain and Iowa absentee Jon Huntsman—had stepped up to the microphone for one final pitch. Michele Bachmann’s campaign had sent some star power in the form of her 21-year-old daughter Elisa; though her mom faded fast and left the race the following day, the younger Bachmann won praise for her eloquence from the caucus voters. She was the closet thing to a celebrity at this site 23 miles west from the heart of downtown Des Moines, with locals stumping for the other candidates. McAvoy introduced each of the speakers, an easy task when it came time for Perry: McAvoy was that designated supporter.
Thank God for elections and election years. An election gives our president, who must face the voters in November, permission to think and act like a partisan. It’s long overdue.
President Obama has boldly made key recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The Republican strategy has been to destroy these agencies by failing to confirm appointees. In the case of the new CFPB, that meant nobody in charge to make key decisions to make the new bureau operational. In the case of the NLRB, it meant the lack of a quorum would paralyze the agency altogether.
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.
Concord, New Hampshire—As the wrath of Achilles was kindled by the slaying of his best friend Patroclus, so the wrath of Newt Gingrich has been set ablaze by the slaying of his own best friend—his ego. Finishing a distant fourth not just to Mitt Romney but also to Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, after Romney’s Super PAC had run a brutal ad campaign against him, Gingrich was fairly blazing in his concession speech last night in Iowa. He not only declined to congratulate Romney but attacked him and his ads, making clear that he’d hang in the race if only to bring Romney down.
One of the things that might not be immediately clear about Iowa is the extent to which it complicates Mitt Romney's general-election campaign, if he’s the nominee. After all, it’s clear that his strategy relies on a shift back to the center, where he’ll run on his record as governor of Massachusetts.
WEST DES MOINES, IOWA—Less than 12 hours ago, Michele Bachmann seemed determined to prove all the haters wrong and vowed to waste the next several weeks of her life in South Carolina. Turns out it was all a ruse to gather the media for one last headline-grabbing event.
After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann—who won the Ames Straw Poll last summer—has suspended her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
“I have no regrets, none whatsoever,” she told the media, saying “I look forward to the next chapter in God’s plan” adding that Republicans “must rally around the person that our country, and our party, and our people decide to be the standardbearer.”
Every candidate knows what you're supposed to say when you come out to speak to your supporters after a loss. This was a great effort! I'm so proud of everyone who worked so hard! Whatever happens, our fight for the things we believe in goes on! As trite as it may be, having been repeated so many times, it actually does make the staffers, volunteers, and supporters feel a little bit better.
Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has decided to release senior officials' short-term interest-rate forecasts, opening a window into the collective mind of the Federal Reserve. The forecasts will be released after the next meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee on January 25. It will include forecasts for the "likely timing" of the first hike of the federal funds target rate and "qualitative information" on the Reserve's war chest of bonds and securities. The Fed likely hopes that by releasing this data, it can encourage much-needed economic growth by guiding investors' expectations and staving off worries about interest-rate changes.
After last night's unprecedented near-tie in the Iowa Republican caucuses, it's easy to think that the GOP nomination contest is somehow up in the air. After all, the two top candidates in last night's election—former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum—are very different brands of Republicans. Mitt Romney is a well-heeled, patrician creature of the establishment, who—after almost a decade of planning—is the "next man in line" for the nomination. Rick Santorum, by contrast, is an unpopular former lawmaker who lost his last election in a colossal landslide and was on his way to renewed obscurity until his surge in Iowa.
DES MOINES, IOWA—The event was already running behind schedule when Chuck Laudner made his way to the front corner of the Pizza Ranch restaurant in Boone, Iowa. He struggled to kill time as Rick Santorum struggled to reach the podium. Over the past weeks, Laudner, a former executive director of the Iowa Republican Party, had been introducing the onetime Pennsylvania senator across the state. At first it was at small gatherings little noticed by the media. But that transformed overnight. On Monday, a crowd filled every inch of floor space, forcing Santorum to slowly trudge to the front, handshake by handshake.
Now that the actual primary campaign (with voting, I mean) has begun, it might be worth taking note of a real benefit this crazy campaign has had for the electorate. With no fewer than six national front-runners at various times (Romney, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich), we've had a chance to get a close look at more candidates than ever. Ordinarily, the press will find only one or two candidates worthy of a good sifting through their past. But this time, nearly all the candidates have been subject to close examination, and the harsh national spotlight reveals all flaws. If you're wondering what skeletons John Huntsman has in his closet, it's because he's the only candidate who hasn't been ahead (or nearly so).