The Iowa caucus results did not produce a clear winner as Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pulled ahead of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by only eight votes. However, it did produce clear losers and it’s time to take a look at what a poor finish in Iowa means for Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
The congresswoman held a press conference Wednesday morning announcing that her dismal 6th place finish in her own birth state has forced her to drop her bid for the White House. She finished with only 5 percent of the vote. Iowa was a central focus in her campaign and her manager, Keith Nahigian, commented a few weeks ago that Iowa was a must-win state for Bachmann. Financially speaking, she spent most of her money in her birth state and without a win there was little hope for future donations.
Despite winning the Ames straw poll in August, Bachmann’s support in the state plummeted soon thereafter.
In the conference Wednesday morning she noted to reporters, “Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a clear voice and so I’ve decided to stand aside.” She also vowed to continue the fight against Obama’s “socialist agenda.”
Directly in front of Bachmann, Perry placed 5th in the Iowa results. He received just 10 percent of the vote after spending millions of dollars campaigning in the state. He announced Tuesday night that he wanted to go back to Texas and “reassess” his campaign. This phrase prompted many pundits to speculate that he would soon drop his bid for the White House.
However, early Wednesday morning Perry indicated on Twitter that he would not be bowing out of the race.
"And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State...Here we come South Carolina!!!" he tweeted.
The decision to continue the race may not bode well for Perry’s opponent, Rick Santorum. It’s clear with the dead heat finish in Iowa that conservative voters are still very much divided among several candidates. Perry and Santorum share much of the same anti-Romney, ultra-conservative base; therefore, Perry’s presence in South Carolina will likely split the base, thus actually giving Romney the edge.
However, Perry appears to be blaming his lackluster finish in Iowa on Iowa itself.
"[Iowa] is a quirky place, a quirky process to say the least and we're going to go into places where they have actual primaries and there are going to be real Republicans voting," he told CBS while in West Des Moines, Iowa.
"I'm excited about getting out with real Republicans and laying out – and not that there aren't real Republicans here in Iowa, but the fact it is was a pretty loosey goosey process and you had a ton of people who were there that admitted they were Democrats voting in the caucuses last night," he continued.
Perry spent millions of dollars in Iowa and gained little in return. It is unclear if, financially speaking, his campaign will be able to carry on much longer.
In front of Perry in the Iowa results is Gingrich, garnering 13 percent of the vote. There’s no chatter of Gingrich dropping out of the race at this point. His placing wasn’t admirable but it also wasn’t as dismal as Perry or Bachmann, so he is pressing ahead. His campaign has reportedly been in debt for several weeks. However, this has not stopped the former speaker of the House from spending money in order to keep his campaign afloat.
Gingrich was already out in New Hampshire Wednesday morning, taking aim at his primary rival, Romney.
“Other than the fact that Governor Romney ran a relentlessly negative campaign of falsehoods, which earned one of his ads four Pinocchio’s from the Washington Post?" Gingrich said at a news conference Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.
"The fact is, three out of four Republicans rejected him. Governor Romney is a moderate Massachusetts Republican to the left of the vast majority of Republicans. I find it amazing that the media continues to say he's the most electable Republican when he can't even break out in his own party.”
When asked why he was praising his rival Santorum and criticizing Romney, Gingrich answered:
"If you looked at the dollars spent by Romney and the dollars spent by Santorum, you'd praise Santorum too.”
He called Romney a liberal who “repudiated Reagan Bush, voted for Paul Tsongas, ran to the left of Teddy Kennedy, and passed Romney care which included state-funded abortions.”
Paul finished third in Iowa, sandwiched between Gingrich and Santorum. He garnered 21.4 percent of the vote. On Tuesday night he told supporters that third place was “nothing to be ashamed of.”
In fact, due to Paul’s ardent supporters a win in Iowa does not spell doom for the congressman. He is still in a decent position for fundraising and his relatively strong run in Iowa has provided momentum to his young supporters.
Four percent of all eligible Iowa voters under the age of 30 partook in Tuesday's caucuses, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Among them, Paul was the clear favorite. Forty-eight percent of those under 30 voted for Paul in comparison to 23 percent for Santorum and 14 percent for Romney.
Even if Paul doesn’t end up getting the nomination, it is clear that he has stirred up a more libertarian movement among young people in America.
"I really support Ron Paul because of his libertarian position on things, like [he's] fiscally conservative but socially more liberal, and that's not a viewpoint that a lot of the more mainstream Republicans have," 19-year-old Jacob Smith told MTV.
"Sometimes it's a little more difficult to convince them that it's a good thing, and so a lot of support is going to Romney and them, but [they're] not as consistent, and they don't follow the Constitution as much, and staying with the Constitution is very important to me, because it's what our country is built on."
The youth vote, according to Paul, will be essential to beating President Obama in the general election.
Paul also came out strong against rival Newt Gingrich on Wednesday after the former House speaker described him as a very dangerous candidate.
“I don’t want to fight a war that’s unconstitutional, and I’m the dangerous person? You know, when Newt Gingrich was called to service in the 1960s during the Vietnam era, guess what he thought about – danger. He chickened out on that, he got deferments and didn’t even go,” Paul said on CNN.