On Earth-2, is Rick Santorum Locking Down the GOP Nomination?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 27 2012 3:19 PM

On Earth-2, is Rick Santorum Locking Down the GOP Nomination?

Tom Beaumont reports that Jamie Johnson, the lone Rick Santorum advocate on Iowa's caucus reform panel, blames the January 3 results screw-up for his candiate's not-quite-enough surge.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

The two-week wait in declaring Rick Santorum the official winner of the Iowa caucuses cannot be overstated in terms of its damage to his national effort to win the Republican nomination. He never got the bump Iowa would have given him.
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Not to get too contrarian -- yes, a "SANTORUM WINS" headline would have been helpful -- but how badly was Santorum really screwed by the GOP here? Accounts from that night, written by reporters waiting and waiting for something official, declared it a toss-up. Here was Jeff Zeleny's lede in the New York Times.

DES MOINES — Mitt Romney’s quest to swiftly lock down the Republican presidential nomination with a commanding finish in the Iowa caucuses was undercut on Tuesday night by the surging candidacy of Rick Santorum, who fought him to a draw on a shoestring budget by winning over conservatives who remain skeptical of Mr. Romney.

Here, Karen Tumulty's lede in the Washington Post.

DES MOINES — Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney beat former senator Rick Santor­um (Pa.) in the Iowa caucuses by just eight votes, a sign of a splintered and increasingly fractious field as the GOP presidential race moves to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

Not quite "Santorum edges past Romney, and upsets race." Just... Santorum ties Romney and upsets race. Santorum got an enormous fundraising bounce after January 3, despite losing absolutely every other race that month. It's possible that a correctly reported Iowa result, with a 34-vote win for Santorum, would have given him extra momentum. But would he have spent it by flying to New Hampshire? Then he would have ended up losing anyway.

No, two things are true about the botched Iowa result.

1) It literally did not matter. It was a non-binding poll; delegate selection occured months later. And Santorum's eventual national bounce was made possible by the media over-stimulating itself with coverage of more non-binding polls.

2) Iowa should go to a primary system already.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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