For starters, the media would have you believe that the 123,000 people who turned out for the Hawkeye Caucii was a record. This is simply not true except superficially. If you take out the non-Republicans who came into the caucuses last night for Ron Paul, the Republican turn out was less than 2008 — even considering the ratio of independents to Republicans who turned out in 2008.
At its best, this turn out does not signal core enthusiasm with the field as it is presently constituted and perhaps signals that an alternative could still jump in. Considering “winner takes all” races do not come until April, someone coming out now could campaign and build momentum to the winner takes all states.
Additionally, anyone who says “this was a victory for retail politics” should be beaten with an Iowan cattle prod. Rick Santorum’s “victory” — and it was a victory in every sense but those 8 votes — was because he has run one of the most God awful disastrous retail campaign operations of any candidate with enough popularity to get on the debate stage.
Santorum visited all 99 Iowan counties, some of them repeatedly. His “successful” campaign never, ever caught on with Iowa voters despite all that retail time in Iowa. It only became successful when ever single other candidate had been vetted and imploded and there was absolutely no other person familiar to the voters who could stand as the non-Romney candidate.
Had Santorum run a successful retail campaign and caught fire on his own accord, he’d have been vetted by now and probably also succumbed to the Romney machine. His campaign was not successful, it’s just all the others sucked so bad.
And now that leads me to Bachmann and Perry. Bachmann, the Iowa native, won not a single county. Even Rick Perry won two counties. Bachmann must drop out. Frankly, it makes sense for Perry to do so as well except for one issue.
If Rick Perry drops out of the race it will be the ultimate failure of the tea party movement to see the race come down to two or three big government conservatives. Romney and Santorum both hide behind compassionate conservatism to expand the state to suit their purposes. Only Rick Perry has run a campaign to make Washington “as inconsequential to our lives as possible.”
If I were Perry, I’d wake up tomorrow, say I refuse to surrender the Republican Party into the hands of big government conservatives after all the gains the tea party has made, and then announce I’m firing all my political staffers and communications staffers and ask South Carolina to help me reboot to victory. Make it an Alamo stand and, if like at the Alamo Perry goes down, perhaps there’ll at least be a rallying cry for small government conservatism left over.