Nail-biter opens Republican contest

 
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with his family behind him during his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday Mitt Romney: his family are behind him, but how many Republican voters are as enthusiastic?

This was a nail-biter. One American commentator suggested we needed a new image - "tighter than a new tube sock on a cow" was his offering.

But this is not one of those elections where one vote matters, because a win by one vote is still a win, because you earn some job at the end of it. You can talk about first and second place if you like, but this was a tie. The Iowa caucus is all about perception and momentum, not fractions of percentage points.

There is no doubt this is a personal triumph for Santorum. He had worked so hard, with so little reward. But on the night it mattered the voters turned out.

If you want to be cruel you could suggest that the Santorum surge was different in only one respect to the rise of all the other "anti-Mitts". Bachmann, Perry, Cain and Newt all had their turn briefly pushing Romney into second place or chasing him hard. Santorum has just been lucky that his surge came so late that it coincided with an actual vote.

In the end this result has to be good for Romney. He's achieved this in a state he hadn't bothered to fight until the last few weeks, where he didn't have much of a campaign.

But it also underscores his problem. He can't break away from the pack. There is deep uncertainty about him among conservative voters, and a complete lack of passion or enthusiasm for him. What happens if he never has a clear-cut, open-and-shut victory?

Time and again in Iowa I spoke to committed Republicans who didn't want Mitt to be the candidate, but thought that he would end up winning, and they would grudgingly support him. Like them, I think that is what will happen. If he does win like that it is not the best way to go into a general election.

 
Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

East-West conflict set to run and run

The current dispute between Russia and the EU is not likely to be resolved any time soon, says Mark Mardell.

Read full article

More on This Story

US Presidential Election 2012

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
 

Comments 5 of 141

 

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

Programmes

  • A computer generated of image of a robotic probe issued by Lunar MissionClick Watch

    Scientists seek crowdfunding to send probe to the Moon, plus other technology news

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.