ByÂ Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor
Ron PaulÂ wonÂ Iowa! At theÂ Iowa GOPÂ convention over the weekend, supporters of theÂ Texaslibertarian walked away with 23 of the stateâ€™s 28 national convention delegates. Under state Republican rules, those delegates are unbound, meaning they can vote for Congressman Paul in August inÂ Tampa,Â Fla., if they please. Itâ€™s another example of how Paulâ€™s strategy of getting his people organized at the grass-roots level has (somewhat) paid off in the end.
But does this Hawkeye State victory come too late to really much matter in the larger scheme ofÂ GOPpolitics?
Weâ€™d say yes, no, and no. But before we explain that, letâ€™s stop for a moment to consider Iowaâ€™s multiple 2012 Republican caucus results. We donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re putting in the pork cutlets there these days, but looked at as a whole this yearâ€™s Iowa vote was positively hallucinatory.
Remember? The first announced result following Iowaâ€™s traditional caucus kickoff to the presidential nomination cycles was thatÂ Mitt RomneyÂ won by eight votes. Then two weeks laterÂ Rick SantorumÂ was certified as winner by 34 votes.
But those caucus votes were a straw poll. Now, months later, it turns out that the people who stuck around and get themselves picked to go to this weekâ€™s state convention were overwhelmingly Paul supporters. So that brings us to the third and final Iowa victor, Ron Paul. (Too bad they couldnâ€™t figure a way to letÂ Newt GingrichÂ win it for a few days, too, just as a gesture to GOP inclusiveness.)
Ron Paulâ€™s campaign is hailing the Iowa results as a big win. â€œDr. Paulâ€™s victory in the Hawkeye State affirms his delegate-attainment strategy and it has the added benefit of having occurred in the first-in-nation voting state, also a swing state,â€ assertsÂ a campaign press release.
But weâ€™d argue the straw poll results had a bigger impact on the GOP horse race than this late-in-the-day delegate win.Â Michele BachmannÂ had to do well to survive, and didnâ€™t. Rick Santorum, by contrast, did do well, and kept rising.
â€œSantorumâ€™s tie/win/close second in the January vote was what affirmed him as the anti-Romney,â€ writesÂ Timothy CarneyÂ on theÂ Washington Examinerâ€™s Beltway Confidential blog.
However, weâ€™d also argue that the final Iowa results could have an impact on how Ron Paulâ€™s army views their candidate â€“ and that in turn could influence the tone of the pro-Ron Paul rally in Tampa now scheduled for Aug. 26.
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