Rick Santorum only lost to Mitt Romney by eight votes Tuesday night in the Hawkeye Caucii of Iowa. Rick Santorum spent about a dollar per vote and Mitt Romney spent hundreds of dollars for his votes.
Santorum substantially over performed -- and while the Romney camp wants you to believe a win is a win -- Romney got fewer votes in 2012 than he got in 2008. In addition, most of what the professional pundit class uttered on Tuesday night was garbage.
The political press and pundits have gotten so used to standard narratives that they cannot deviate from them even when grossly dislocated from reality.
First, the reason the GOP has such a chaotic primary fight has nothing to do with the tea party. It has nothing to do with the bulk of the GOP not wanting Romney.
The reason this Republican primary is so chaotic is because George W. Bush failed to have a successor.
Had President Bush had a vice president to run for president, there would have been an ascertainable frontrunner coming from the Bush administration to win or lose.
Because there was not such a thing and the GOP likes orderly processes, the party went back to 2000 and dredged up Sen. John McCain.
The Republican field was unable to reboot because we had no logical successor coming out of the White House. The GOP went back to McCain and has had to work back through unresolved issues from 2000. Now, when the field should be rebooted, the GOP has to deal with Romney, who should have been displaced by an heir in 2008.
Instead, because the 2008 season did not reboot the crop of candidates, he is the guy three-quarters of the GOP does not want and is about to be the nominee.
The process is chaotic because Bush left no heir to win or to be rejected through a cathartic process of locking in gains or moving on from Bush. Democrats who want to keep Joe Biden should take note.
That’s not the only issue the media has failed to pay attention to.
The media would have you believe that the 123,000 people who turned out for the Iowa Caucuses was a record. This only superficially true. Take out the non-Republicans who participated for Ron Paul and Republican turnout was less than 2008.
At its best, this turnout does not signal core enthusiasm with the field 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 until the winner takes all states enter the fray.
Additionally, anyone who says “this was a victory for retail politics” should be beaten with an Iowan cattle prod. Santorum’s “victory” -- and it was a victory in every sense but those eight votes -- was because he ran one of the worst retail campaign operations of any candidate with enough popularity to get on the debate stage.
Santorum visited all 99 Iowa 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 every other candidate had been vetted, imploded, and there was 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 also succumbed to the Romney machine. His campaign was not successful, it’s just that all the others sucked badly.
Erick Erickson is a CNN contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.