Iowa Caucus Results Analysis

The Iowa caucuses were yesterday! Were you not tremendously excited!?!? So many choices, so many great builders of an egalitarian, fair, and prosperous society! So many innovative ideas to get America back on track!

Well, maybe not. Maybe there was not one decent candidate. That would explain the highly fractured results that this post will analyze. Another reason for the level of parity was simply due to market saturation and the stabilization of bases of support. With the exception of Michelle Bachmann (and Jon Huntsman, who did not campaign in Iowa), every candidate had a core geographic base within the state. This is noticeable when looking at the results, as supplied by This post will analyze why each candidate received the support from each geographic reason, though I will omit potential endorsement effects, since I am simply unaware and do not care enough to piece together the effect they had. First the results:

Wow, that’s amazing! So much parity, mmm parity. Anyway, my predictions were wrong, but I was 2/3 correct by having the top two so close; I guess I underestimated the extent to which Rick Perry would still attract votes, which helped Santorum pull closer to Paul and Romney, eventually nearly surpassing both of them.

1. Mitt Romney

30,015 votes; 24.6%

Strength: Biggest metropolitan areas

Romney received more or less what was expected of him, receiving a fourth of the vote. The problem is that the presumptive nominee should receive more than that, unless he is struggling. Romney won six of the eight counties that possess the eight biggest cities in the state, including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport. The two he did not win, which were Woodbury county (Sioux City) and Black Hawk county (Waterloo), he was within 5% and 1% of the winner, respectively. Chances are he won those cities, but lost the more rural surrounding parts of the counties. Romney concentrated his personal appearances in big cities, and this decision shows why he ran strong there while Santorum took the sparsely populated counties, which he visited nearly all of. All in all, in could have been worse for Romney in this very conservative electorate, but it most certainly could have been much, much better for the only candidate that poses a threat to Obama’s reelection prospects.

2. Rick Santorum

30,007 votes; 24.5%

Strength: Northwest; West; rural conservative heartland throughout

Santorum’s strength lay in his conclusive reception as the most authentically socially conservative candidate in the field. For this reason, his map looks very much like a classic Republican versus Democrat map of the state, such as the 2008 presidential election:

Santorum’s strength arises from the cacophony of ideological views that spawn from ideological migration. As is the case with most of the following maps, the more conservative the candidate, the better they do in densely conservative areas, since the echo-chamber of extremism takes hold. The other side of the coin is the more liberal an area, the more likely they are to vote for a moderate Republican, since these voters are only conservative compared to their Democratic counterparts, but probably share many principles and beliefs. This explains why the moderate Romney and libertine Paul did best in the eastern part of the state, which is more liberal, densely populated, and youthful. Republican voters, and voters in general, reflect their surroundings, and the more uniform the views, the more extreme the result; whereas the more heterogeneous the views of those around you, the more temperate result occurs.

Santorum’s strongest showings were in the counties of Sioux and Lyon, which are by far the two most right-wing extreme conservative reactionary in the state, and possibly the Midwest. The hateful Dutch Reformed churches that preach hating the gays in these counties would clearly latch onto Santorum, who was known as one of the most anti-gay legislators in congress during his tenure. Elsewhere, Santorum did exceptionally well in the counties just west of Des Moines, which he frequented about as much as every other candidate combined. Santorum surged in a last minute frantic exodus of undecided social conservatives who simply learned enough about every other candidate to get turned off, which if this would have extended a little longer, might have also been the case with Santorum.

3. Ron Paul

26,219 votes; 21.4%

Strength: Eastern part, college towns, metro areas

Ron Paul’s support reflected where he spent most of his time, which was the eastern part of the state and big cities. I am not quite sure how many college-aged Republicans voted, but that demographic certainly provided his GOTV efforts and door-knockers. Paul’s map reflects his regional support was nearly the same as Romney’s, but he simply ran behind him in most of these areas, except Waterloo. I expected him to win the caucus, but the voters that would have supplied that victory instead decided to support Santorum as the safer bet, being less controversial and risky policy-wise than Paul. His messages still resonate with many conservatives, but his doctrinaire libertarianism does scare many of the more authoritarian minded social conservatives who would like to restrict, not increase, freedoms.

4. Newt Gingrich

16,251 votes; 13.3%

Strength: Rural northern and western parts

Gingrich’s numbers were fairly dissipated throughout, not winning a single county (which even Rick Perry won two). Gingrich was weakest in metropolitan areas, showing both a cultural difference with the candidate, and an educational difference, with the less educated people in rural areas succumbing to his demagoguery more than city folk. Not much to say about this map, other than it shows he had trouble holding onto all the people who said they supported him in polls, with the likely reason because they learned more about who he was and decided he is more repulsive than endearing. Quite the flame-out, but since all he wants to do is sell books, he ends up winning anyway.

5. Rick Perry

12,604 votes; 10.3%

Strength: The populist southern counties, and generally the west

Perry’s map shows a cleavage in the types of conservatives that participate in the Iowa caucus. The southern region is known to be very populist oriented, and evidently the counties of Union and Taylor thought Perry was a man of the people, or a successful leader. I guess his meet and greet in Creston went well. Very interesting concentration in the south, either because i) very few other people spent that much time there, ii) something about the region lends itself to southern leadership, or iii) proximity to Missouri somehow makes the demographics more southern oriented. I could look into this, but really I do not care why Perry did well in southern Iowa; he will drop out soon with a boatload of campaign dollars to run for a 4th term as Texas Executioner-in-Chief.

6. Michelle Bachmann

6,073 votes; 5%

Strength: Some southwestern and northern counties, but hardly any real support

Considering Bachmann was the only native born Iowan in the race, and she won the Ames poll, 5% was about the floor she could receive; and she hit the floor hard. So hard she will most likely drop out of the race. She did not campaign in any other states, so finishing 6th with all her eggs in this basket means she’s going back to Washington, to fight another day against the evil socialist (centrist) President Obama.

7. Jon Huntsman

745 votes; 0.6%

Strength: Metro areas? Otherwise, nowhere

Huntsman… if he would have just campaigned here he could have surged like Santorum, except to a lesser degree being that his ideology is much more moderate. This map essentially shows nothing, being that the dark grey county is Worth county where he received 3 votes total. As a percentage, that was his best showing. So, this map essentally shows where he received one or more votes, which is hilarious.


Posted on January 3, 2012, in 2012 Election, Elections, Party System. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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