Romney pulls it out tonight in Iowa barely scraping by Rick Santorum in essentially a statistical two way tie of 25% each to Romney and Santorum. Ron Paul came in a close 3rd.
EXCEPT… It’s a caucus state.
No national delegates were elected in Iowa tonight. Only county delegates were.
The vote totals are completely nonbinding and county delegates can elect whatever state delegates they want to. It is the state delegates who elect the national delegates.
The elections of county delegates tonight occurred AFTER the poll in completely separate votes in each precinct. Exit polls show Ron Paul as the winner in terms of the number county delegates elected as a result of an organized Paul ground campaign.
That said, Santorum will likely be out of the race before Super Tuesday. That puts whatever (2nd or 3rd place total) county delegates he got into limbo. Who knows how they will end up voting? Some may not show up to county conventions at all. Most will likely support Romney, some will go to Paul. That means the ultimate result of tonight, once Santorum drops, puts Romney back into 1st place and Paul into 2nd in terms of the delegate count (which is all that matters).
Transference of Santorum’s delegate support to Romney will upset some evangelicals who voted for Santorum and elected Santorum delegates, frankly, because they would not vote for a Mormon. But c’est la vie. Once county delegates are elected they can do what they want.
Another EXCEPT with regards to the (nonbinding) vote totals…. the overseas Iowa military caucus vote totals were NOT included in the reported totals from tonight. So, it will be interesting to see the final, FINAL count, once the overseas military votes are counted in.
More to come…
UPDATED: It looks like Perry may be out of the race already. He’s back in now at least until SC. Bachman is out. More to come…