Last night the Iowa caucus was held. It's the first of a number of caucuses and primaries to determine each party's nominee for President. The results are:
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, had 30,015 votes. Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and an upstart challenger who just weeks ago polled in the single digits, had 30,007, the state GOP said.
Each had roughly 25% of the vote in Iowa, the first state to vote in the 2012 presidential caucus and primary season. Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, had 21%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was at 13%. Perry was at 10%, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota had 5%, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman had 1%Perry said in his concession speech “With a little prayer and a little reflection, I’m going to decide the best path forward,” which is usually a way of saying "I'm dropping out." Huntsman did not campaign in Iowa, preferring to focus on New Hampshire. Michele Bachmann is saying that she's staying in (for now), but after her early showing in the straw polls in Iowa, this result is pretty much the end for her.
Santorum was the surprise, since even two weeks ago he was in single digits. But his showing, along with Ron Paul's, demonstrates the influence of the religious right and Tea Party in the Republican "base," as well as a strong "Not Romney" sentiment among the Republican primary voters.
Romney's win tonight, as close as it was (just 8 votes) is a strong indicator that he will be the eventual nominee. He wasn't expected to win to begin with, with various pundits saying he'd do well to finish third. Whether this translates into actual momentum and the party getting behind him will be the topic of discussion over the next few months.
Updated 11:30 AM: Michele Bachmann has announced that she is suspending her campaign.