Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucus last night, capturing 30,015 votes. Rick Santorum came in close second with 30,017 votes. Ron Paul finished third with 26,186 votes.
In a photo finish race for first place, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had been running neck and neck well into the wee hours of the morning. Each candidate commanded 25% of the vote in the 2012 Iowa Caucus. Texas Congressman Ron Paul trailed closely in third place with 21%.
The three way divide between Santorum, Romney, and Paul is very reflective of the ideological divide within the Republican party amongst religious conservatives, moderates, and libertarians, respectively.
Regardless of whether he took 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, Mitt Romney is the loser in Iowa when it comes to having bang for the buck. The Massachusetts Govenor's campaign and super PAC spent an overwhelming amount of money in Iowa which only resulted in capturing only 25% of the vote.
Although the final campaign expenditure numbers for Iowa are not yet available, roughly the Romney camp will have spent as much as 6 to 9 times much as Santorum, and 2 to 4 times as much as Paul in Iowa. Despite Romney's heavy hitting monied interests trying to convince Republicans that pink is the new black, ultimately the voters have the last say to call a candidate the color as they see it.
Santorum showed emarkable passion and endurance during the race. He proved that good old fashioned elbow grease can still make a difference when it comes to retail politics. Although he virtually tied with Romney, Santorum is the real winner because he will be the main beneficiary of the post-election media attention and corresponding fundraising capabilities.
Ron Paul's third place showing was a bit of disappointment for his supporters who expected Paul to place either 1st or 2nd in Iowa. Paul will have a better chance against Santorum in New Hampshire where the Evangelical Christians do not have as much of a presence as they did in Iowa. The religious right demographics will flip back into Santorum's favor when the campaigns head into South Carolina.
Florida will most likely be the presidential picker this election cycle. This is somewhat ironic given that this will be the first time the state holds an early presidential primary election.