GOP presidential nomination candidate Mitt Romney has as expected won the Iowa straw poll by a clear margin. Romney won 32% (4516 votes) to Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's 18% (2587) and Senator Sam Brownback's 15% (2192). Huckabee's and Brownback's performances make them viable candidates for the presidential nomination
The poor showing of Tommy Thompson, who declared before the vote that he would drop out in the event of not finishing number 1 or number 2, is likely to end his race. He finished 6th with 7%.
Neither Senator John McCain, Rudy Giuliani nor Law and Order actor-and- politician Fred Thompson ran in the race, though their names were on the ballot paper. The poor showing of Duncan Hunter, in a race where the main challengers had opted out, may well end his presidential bid.
Another flop was controversial libertarian republican congressman Ron Paul who, though he had received the backing of a massive internet campaign which had flooded internet sites with with supportive messages (including this one), and was supported by large numbers of out-of-state young people who had travelled to the event to canvass for him, achieved only 9%, far less than the predictions of supporters.
The performance of the 11 nominated candidates were:
1. Mitt Romney –32 percent
2. Mike Huckabee – 18 percent
3. Sam Brownback – 15 percent
4. Tom Tancredo – 14 percent
5. Ron Paul – 9 percent
6. Tommy Thompson — 7 percent
7. Fred Thompson – 1 percent
8. Rudolph W. Giuliani – 1 percent
9. Duncan Hunter – 1 percent
10. John McCain (less than 1 percent)
11. John Cox (less than 1 percent)
With McCain's campaign in chaos and freefall, the race is thought likely to be between Giuliani and Romney. Both have strong positives and negatives for conservatives, a key part of the Republican core. Guiliani wins plaudits for her performance as New York major during 9/11, but criticism over his liberal views on gay rights and abortion, his religion - only one Catholic, John F Kennedy, ever became president, while Al Smith and John Kerry both lost) and his personal life - he has been divorced twice, the second time during his period as mayor when the divorce's bitterness earned international coverage. Romney's clean-cut family image contrasts to Giuliani's, but his flip-flopping on a range of issues including abortion, and his past declaration in a Senate race that he was more liberal than Ted Kennedy, may hurt him, as might his religion - many conservatives regard his Jesus Christ of the latter Day Saints as not being a Christian church. Whether they would elect someone they perceive as not being a Christian is a point being speculated about.
The strong showing of Huckabee and Brownback may make them viable contenders and potential serious challengers for the GOP nomination. Governor Huckabee's performance was seen as stronger than expected, and should guarantee him a place in the race at least until the later stages, if not all the way to the convention and beyond.
The momentum of the race may be affected by the suggestion by President Bush's new Iraq War czar, Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, that the draft may have to be introduced, upping the similiarities between Iraq and the Vietnam War. The US has not operated a draft since 1973 and its re-appearance as an issue may prove highly controversial and unpopular with voters.
The Republican count was marred however by serious problems with the voting software. Ron Paul supporters had sought an injunction to prevent it being used, only to lose in two courts. Academics have already suggested that the system, which was widely used in the 2004 presidential election, is capable of producing fraudulant results if tampered with. The failure of electronic voting to perform when only counting less than 20,000 votes raises questions as to its continued use in nationwide federal and state elections.
New York Times result
New York Times candidate reaction
Forbes Magazine description of the event.