More than 6 1/2 hours after voting began (and 10 1/2 hours into this live blog), the Iowa Republican Party declared Mitt Romney the winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses by just eight votes. The final tally came down to the wire, with Rick Santorum and Romney virtually tied until the end. A full recap of the Iowa caucuses follows.
1:21 a.m. | The six counties we watched
The Fix listed six Iowa counties to watch during Tuesday night’s caucuses that would be particularly telling about the race. Here’s what became of them:
• Dallas County: The Fix said one of Iowa’s fastest growing counties was one of the only ones near Des Moines that Mitt Romney won in 2008. Results: Mitt Romney wins with 33 percent.
• Dubuque County: This “heavily Catholic and pro-life” county was one of Romney’s strongest in 2008, but if Santorum could post a strong showing there The Fix said it would be a “very good sign” for him. Results: Romney wins with 31 percent.
• Johnson County: A big college presence and young population made Ron Paul a favorite, and Johnson County a must-win for him. Results: Romney wins with 34 percent.
• Polk County: The largest Iowa county was not a strong one for Romney in 2008. “A win here would be a really good sign for him,” The Fix wrote. Results: Romney wins with 28 percent.
• Sioux County: This northwestern, socially conservtive county “has to be Rick Santorum today.” Results: Santorum wins with 46 percent.
• Woodbury County:Romney hadn’t spent much time in this county, which he won by a big margin in 2008. But Michele Bachmann and Santorum were vying hard for votes there.Results: Santorum wins with 33 percent.
View all Iowa caucus results by county.
12:15 a.m. | Santorum supporters celebrate
Here’s a taste of the mood before Santorum spoke in Johnston, Iowa, when he was leading Romney by less than 900 votes with 96 percent of precincts reporting (By 12:45 a.m. and 99 percent of precincts reporting, the gap had narrowed to just five votes.) See full Iowa caucus results.
Will we see Santorum soon? Warm-up guy just gave crowd lesson in NOT waving signs during speech, so as not to obscure tv view #iacaucus— Rosalind Helderman (@PostRoz) January 4, 2012
And now they're on to "Amazing Grace" at Santorum party. #iacaucus— Rosalind Helderman (@PostRoz) January 4, 2012
12:05 a.m. | Rick Perry will 'assess' campaign after Iowa loss
Texas Gov. Rick Perry told supporters in West Des Moines late Tuesday that he plans to reassess his presidential campaign after a dismal fifth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses.
“With the voters’ decision tonight, I’ve decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight’s caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race,” Perry said shortly before midnight.
The Texas governor’s campaign blanketed the Iowa airwaves with more than $4.5 million in TV ads — more than any other candidate — but came in fifth place, garnering 10.3 percent of the vote.
11:32 p.m. | Ron Paul projected to take third in Iowa caucus
“We will go on. We will raise the money,” Paul told crowd of supporters gathered in the Des Moines suburb of Ankeny.
11:06 p.m. | Palin: 'Worst thing' GOP can do is marginalize Ron Paul supporters
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) said Tuesday night that Republicans who would marginalize Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) are making a big mistake.
“Here’s the deal,” Palin told Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto. “The GOP would be so remiss to marginalize Ron Paul and his supporters as we come out of Iowa tonight and move down the road to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, et cetera. If we marginalize these supporters who have been touched by Ron Paul and what he believed in over these years, well, then, through a third party run of Ron Paul’s or the Democrats capturing those independents and these libertarians who supported what Ron Paul’s been talking about, well, then the GOP is going to lose. And then there will be no light at the end of the tunnel.”
For more from Palin’s interview, click here.
11 p.m. | Rick Perry: 'We'll wait and see in the morning what it looks like'
Rick Perry downplayed the importance of Iowa in the presidential nominating process Tuesday night, saying that the GOP nominating contest will come down to more than just “one or two states.”
“The idea that one or two states is going to decide who the next nominee for the Republican Party is just, you know, that’s not reality,” Perry told CNN before the caucuses began.
Perry’s team planned events in South Carolina for Wednesday and hoped a jumbled pecking order would emerge from Iowa’s caucuses.
“The votes are the votes, and we’re still early in the night so we’ll wait and see in the morning what it looks like,” he told Fox News Channel from an election night party that was slow to fill with supporters.
Results thus far in Iowa show Perry a distant fifth place at 10 percent, with 88 percent of precincts reporting (track full Iowa caucus results here).
10:40 p.m. | Full transcript of Obama remarks to Iowa Democrats
Read the full text of President Obama’s address to Iowa Democrats .
10:20 p.m. | Buddy Roemer getting retweets, if not votes
Former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer’s longshot bid for president never gained much traction with voters. He’s firmly in the “others” category, with nine votes as of this post according to the Associated Press (track full Iowa caucus results here) .
And he’s not ashamed to tweet you about it.
BREAKING: Nobody in Iowa knows I exist. #LetBuddyDebate— Gov. Buddy Roemer (@BuddyRoemer) January 4, 2012
Hermain Cain is currently beating me in Iowa. #seriously— Gov. Buddy Roemer (@BuddyRoemer) January 4, 2012
Maybe I should've waited until *after* the Iowa caucus to say I would cut all ethanol subsidies. #corny— Gov. Buddy Roemer (@BuddyRoemer) January 4, 2012
At least there’s this, from a group that does social media consulting for his campaign:
Track performance of the major candidates on Twitter using Mention Machine.
10:15 p.m. | Evangelicals less united than in 2008
Reports The Post’s polling analyst, Scott Clement:
Early entrance polls show evangelical Christians making up a majority of Republican caucus-goers in Iowa, similar to 2008, when 60 percent of caucus-goers were evangelicals and helped turn the tide in favor of Mike Huckabee. This year, though, evangelicals are less united behind any of the GOP contenders.
(Some pre-election polls anticipated lower turnout among evangelical Christians this year.)
Several candidates run stronger among evangelical Christians than among non-evangelicals. But unlike 2008, when Huckabee ran away with 46 percent of the evangelical vote, early results show no candidate earning more support from more than than three in 10 born-again Christians.
Rick Santorum is the candidate who’s closest to matching Huckabee’s 2008 performance, garnering the support of about three in 10 evangelicals so far.
For Scott’s full breakdown of the results, click here.
10:11 p.m. | Santorum manager: 'We're going to have enough resources to compete'
Per The Post’s Roz Helderman at Santorum headquarters in Johnston, the former Pennsylvania senator will spend most of next week in New Hampshire but will spend much of Sunday on a quick South Carolina swing.
“Whatever happens tonight, we’re going to come out of here with more momentum than we had just two weeks ago,” says Santorum’s campaign manager Mike Biundo.
Biundo also said that Santorum can “weather” a storm of negative ads from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
“We’re going to have enough resources to compete,” he said.
With about one-fifth of the results in, Iowa Secretary of State and Santorum supporter Matt Schultz set high expectations for the campaign.
“It looks like he’s going to be 1st or 2nd. I’m thinking 1st, but we’ll see,” Schultz said.
In the 2008 GOP caucuses, the county was one of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s best: Huckabee took 42 percent there, while former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney took 22 percent and Rep. Ron Paul took 16 percent.
Santorum is scheduled to appear on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta van Susteren” tonight at midnight.
10:00 p.m. | The Rock Rapids vote
Brian Hamilton and his son Will, 8, right, register to caucus at the community center in downtown Rock Rapids, Iowa, Precinct 7 caucus. — Melina Mara, Witness Politics
9:34 p.m. | More moderates, independents than in '08
Jon Cohen, the Post’s polling editor, has the latest on tonight’s entrance polls. Writes Jon:
Early entrance poll numbers — which may or may not be representative of the electorate — show a higher share of independents and moderates than in 2008 as well as a little older electorate.
Last go-around self-identified Republicans made up nearly nine in 10 caucus-goers; now it’s about three in four.
Same proportion “very conservative,” but also more moderates than there were in 2008.
One big number coming out of 2008 was that 60 percent of caucus-goers were evangelical. The preliminary numbers continue to show a similar proportion this year.
You can read his full post here.
9:27 p.m. | Obama's pitch to Iowa Democrats
President Obama delivered remarks Tuesday night to Iowa Democrats via video conference. Check out a video and a pool report of his remarks here.
9:19 p.m. | No speakers for Gingrich, Perry in Indianola
CNN’s Peter Hamby reports that former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry had no surrogates to speak on their behalf at the Indianola caucus Tuesday — a bad omen, and one that suggests that the two candidates struggled to put together a campaign organization in the state.
Notes Hamby from the caucus site: “Even Huntsman has a speaker!”
9:10 p.m. | Rick Perry's caucus pulpit
Rick Perry speaks before the caucuses at Point of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa.
Grace Mongomery snapped this #2012Unfiltered photo. She and other Louisiana State University political communication students traveled to Iowa to cover the caucuses for their “Iowa of the Tiger” blog.
8:50 p.m. | Ron Paul picks a Twitter fight with Jon Huntsman
@jonhuntsman we found your one Iowa voter, he's in Linn precinct 5 you might want to call him and say thanks.— Ron Paul (@RonPaul) January 4, 2012
Talk about getting nasty in the 11th hour.
8:30 p.m. | In Urbandale, Karen Santorum calls Rick 'a very faithful man'
At the Urbandale caucus, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s (R) wife spoke on his behalf, praising him as “a very faithful man.”
“He has spent the last six years going across the country educating people on the threat of radical Islam and lots of other things,” Karen Santorum said of her husband. “Rick is a very faithful man. There is nothing more beautiful than a faithful husband and a father who is on his knees praying for our family.”
She closed by telling caucus-goers that if they are looking for a candidate who “understands the crucial role that faith and family play not only in our culture but also in our economy, then Rick Santorum is your guy.”
After Karen Santorum finished speaking, the precinct chairman took the microphone and noted lightheartedly that Santorum had gone over the three-minute time limit.
A surrogate for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who spoke ahead of Santorum, defended his candidate’s foreign policy views.
“If we don’t do something radical, we wont be able to help anybody. ... Can we really not trust ourselves to live in liberty? I think we can, and I think Ron Paul is the best chance to do that,” the surrogate, Mark Bakker, said.
8:20 p.m. | Gingrich gets rousing response in Cedar Falls
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) blazed through her four minutes trying to touch on as many issues as she could, exhorting voters to “stand up” with her to protect the borders, make English the nation’s official language, stand up to the Federal Reserve and protect national defense and “traditional marriage.”
“I’m a proven, time-tested conservative,” she said. “I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in the blessings that God has gifted to America. I believe in standing for the protection of human life from conception until natural death.”
She continued: “I believe in the traditional definition of marriage as one man and one woman. I believe we stand up against out-of-control judges and stand up for the truths that we are given. Stand up America! Stand up Iowa! Reclaim our country! Tonight we begin the process of taking it back.”
Bachmann’s rousing speech prompted an enthusiastic response, making her a tough act to follow for Gingrich, who walked slowly to the lectern with his wife, Callista. Yet Gingrich elicited the most enthusiastic response.
Gingrich followed Bachmann and directed his remarks primarily at Obama, but he took a not so subtle swipe at Bachmann when he said: “This is not a time for another amateur. Washington is too complicated, the problems are too large.”
“Barack Obama is so radical and at the same time so incompetent that eight years may cripple America for several generations. So the decision you are making is very, very important.”
Gingrich also elicited a hearty round of applause when he boasted of running a “relentlessly positive” campaign.
“You have a chance tonight to send the signal to America that the consultant-driven, viciously negative campaigns are totally wrong for this year, when America is in these kinds of problems. You can do that by refusing to vote for anyone who has run negative ads. You can insist on voting for someone who has been positive.”
8:15 p.m. | Huntsman's message to Iowa
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman has a message for the winner of the Iowa caucuses, reports NBC’s Jo Ling Kent:
“Welcome to New Hampshire. Nobody cares.”
Huntsman, of course, has decided not to compete in the first-in-the-nation caucuses and is opting instead for New Hampshire, where he hopes his moderate record will resonate with Granite State voters. New Hampshire’s primary is one week away, on Jan. 10.
8:05 p.m. | LIVE: Chat with the Fix team
Head over to the Fix to live-chat with Chris Cillizza, Aaron Blake, Rachel Weiner and all their fellow political junkies friends. Or tweet a question on Twitter using #AsktheFixTweet #AsktheFix
7:55 p.m. | All about Iowa in 140 characters
The Iowa caucus is complicated. Unless you break it down into 140 character segments, like many of our favorite knowledgeable tweeps did over the past few days.
Worth remembering about the Iowa caucuses: delegates are not bound to vote for the winner. iowagop.org/constitution.p…— Michael Cooper (@coopnytimes) January 3, 2012
Lowest winning % in history of Iowa caucuses was 26% by Bob Dole in 1996. Will that record be broken tonight?— The Fix (@TheFix) January 3, 2012
See the full post with caucus history and trivia here.
7:50 p.m. | At state's largest caucus site, Vander Plaats speaks for Santorum
Caucus-goers descended upon the sports arena floor at the University of Northern Iowa, which was predicted to be the largest caucus site across the state Tuesday. Both Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann claimed for themselves the four minutes their campaigns were allotted to address voters before caucusing was set to begin at 7; surrogates spoke on behalf of the other candidates, including Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats for Rick Santorum.
A timekeeper kept time on the speeches, and another party official held up signs in front of the speakers warning them as each minute ticked down in their allotted time.
Vander Plaats, who leads the conservative group the Iowa Family Leader, said he endorsed Santorum because he passed his three-pronged test as an “authentic conservative:” He has character; he is a social conservative; and he can beat president Obama. — Amy Gardner
7:00 p.m. | Live from Cedar Falls
“This is what a caucus looks like. Predicted as Iowa’s largest caucus site, in Cedar Falls, 90 minutes before showtime.” — Amy Gardner
6:37 p.m. | The calm before the caucus storm
Here at Rock Rapids, Iowa, Precinct #7 caucus at the downtown community center the setup has just begun. An American flag stands alone at the front of the empty room. Chairs and tables wait for caucus participants. According to Carol Hill, former precinct chair, “This evening promises to be a contentious caucus... with lots of different opinions represented.” — Melina Mara, Witness Politics
6:45 p.m. | The real competition?
This #2012Unfitered photo shows Tagg Romney speaking while his brothers listen at the event where the heated discussion was held, “Rock the Caucus” at Valley High School in West Des Moines.
We’ll keep you posted if official results of this contest are posted.
6:35 p.m. | Caucus-day diversion: Whose shoes?
While you’re waiting for the caucus results to come in, try your hand and see if you can match them up.
5:50 p.m. | In Rock Rapids, 'lunch bunch' ladies want more dialogue
For the Rock Rapids Social & Political Ladies Lunch Bunch, a mix of conservatives and moderate Republicans (and a few Democrats), the general sentiment going into the Iowa caucuses is discontent with government’s dysfunction. The group of retired professional women discussed the campaign today over sandwiches and diet soda. Nearly half are still undecided. Two said they will be attending an evening caucus.
Holly Spitler said she was so “sick of all the phone calls” from Republican candidates (up to 10 a day), that she may not even vote. Even in the approximately 85 percent Republican voting block of Lyon County, retired teacher Evelyn Baldwin says, “Rock Rapids is the kinda town were different opinions can sit down together, drink coffee and have some lunch, and exchange ideas... Why can’t the politicians learn to do that? ”
5:45 p.m. | Obama 'no more or less interested' in caucus results than anybody else
That’s what White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says.
“Like many of us, he will, I’m sure, be interested to see what the results are in the other party’s caucuses,” Carney told reporters at today’s White House briefing. “I’m sure he is as no more or less interested than the rest of us.”
“No more interested?” asked a reporter amid laughs from the press corps.
“Well, I think in the sense that -- I think that he knows what his focus is right now, which is continuing to work on behalf of the American people, continuing to do whatever he can, working with Congress and with the private sector and through executive action, to grow the economy and create jobs, to help protect the middle class and expand it,” Carney replied. “That’s what his focus is.”
Video of the exchange, courtesy of C-SPAN:
Obama’s Twitter account might beg to differ. This afternoon, @BarackObama tweeted:
“Four years ago, Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus. Where were you? #Obama2012”
5:25 p.m. | Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed makes surprise appearance at Santorum event
From Rosalind S. Helderman in Urbandale:
There was a surprise guest at a final rally for Rick Santorum at a Christian school just outside of Des Moines: former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed.
Reed was seated in the bleachers of the school’s gymnasium listening to Santorum address students and parents. The regular public was prohibited from attending, making for a rather small -- and by recent standards for the surging candidate, placid -- crowd.
In an interview, Reed, now head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said Santorum is a good friend and but he stopped short of endorsing his candidacy.
“I think they’re more capable of coming to their own decision. I think what you see reflected in the polling is pretty consistent with what I’m hearing, which is that there’s a lot of energy out there for Rick, but the evangelical vote is not monolithic. They’re coming down in different places for different people for different reasons,” he said.
“Rick is someone who’s had presidential timber for a long time. Everyone who knew him knew that. But it just took a little longer for him to get a hearing,” Reed continued.
In remarks to a largely student, and, it appeared, too-young-to-vote -- audience, Santorum said he wanted to educate the group and gave a lengthy discourse on the power of the branches of government and the need to restrain federal power.
“I’m running for president because I don’t want to compromise more on some of the basic values of our country, including this government getting enormous, crushing not only businesses and our economy but crushing the rights of free people,” he said.
And in front of the evangelical crowd, he made a rousing final argument that his campaign is designed to advance traditional Biblical values against secularism.
“I love it when the left and when the president says don’t try to impose your values on us, you folks who hold your Bibles in your hands and cling to your guns. Don’t impose your values on us,” he said. “They have values too. Our values are based on religion, based on the Bible. Their values are based on self.”
“Want to know what’s at stake in this election?” he said. “That values structure. That, right there, is what’s at stake.”
4:55 p.m. | For Team Romney, a caucus day debate prep session — and a McDonald's lunch
From Philip Rucker in Des Moines:
How does a candidate spend Election Day? If you’re Mitt Romney, you spend it in a windowless hotel conference room practicing for the next test.
Having completed his campaigning for Tuesday night’s Iowa caucuses, Romney is spending the afternoon holed up with his advisers at the Marriott downtown here preparing for two debates this weekend in New Hampshire.
The former Massachusetts governor and his campaign take pride in their intense debate preparation sessions. But he has a new challenge in the Saturday night and Sunday morning debates: a surging Rick Santorum.
It’s unlikely Romney has spent much time in earlier such sessions preparing lines of attack on the former Pennsylvania senator, but there’s a pretty good chance he’s doing just that today as he studies with chief strategist Stuart Stevens, senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom and other trusted aides.
Earlier today, Romney held a morning rally just three blocks from the Marriott, where he (and hundreds of journalists) is staying. He sat for a string of media interviews and, upon returning to the Marriott, he and his wife, Ann, stopped at a table in the hotel’s lobby to say hello to a handful of journalists.
Asked how he had slept the night before, Mitt Romney said he slept quite well – “although not enough.”
The Romneys quickly retired to their hotel room, and a few minutes later an aide brought them their lunch. It was from McDonald’s – a hamburger for Mitt, and oatmeal for Ann.
4:40 p.m. | Winding down before the main event
The candidates are making their final Iowa stops before the caucuses begin, which means our reporters and contributors are snapping their final Instagrams for #2012Unfiltered.
Felicia Sonmez posted this morning on where all the candidates will be spending their last night in Iowa.
4:30 p.m. | Ron Paul supporters heckle Rick Santorum
“Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican,” goes the Eleventh Commandment of Republican politics, according to former California GOP Chairman Gaylord Parkinson.
If there were a Twelfth Commandment, it might go something like: “Thou shalt throw the Eleventh Commandment out the window in the last hours of a heated campaign.”
Reports The Hill’s Cameron Joseph from West Des Moines:
Rick Santorum was heckled by Ron Paul supporters as he left a high school in West Des Moines on Tuesday.
The crowd chanted “Big-spending Rick” and “nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye.”
When The Hill asked Santorum what he thought of the crowd as they began chanting, he paused, smiled tightly and said, “It’s the crowd at the caucuses that matters.”
As we’ve reported, there’s been no love lost between Santorum and Ron Paul supporters in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses. The reason? As usual, it’s as much about policy (the two are worlds apart when it comes to social and foreign policy as well as other issues) as it is about politics (Santorum and Paul have both rocketed to the top tier of contenders).
For his part, Santorum took a shot of his own at Paul this morning, telling a handful of reporters: “Ron Paul is disgusting.”
If there were any doubt that the campaign had entered the food-fight phase, those remarks – coupled with Newt Gingrich’s accusation this morning that Mitt Romney is “a liar” – should dispel it.
4:09 p.m. | Rick Santorum to young voters: 'read those blogs' (video)
In a pitch to Iowa’s young voters, Rick Santorum played up disenchantment with President Obama and Congress: “You have to hold your representatives accountable and your president accountable,” Santorum said. “You’ve gotta read those blogs, you’ve gotta read the news wires, you’ve gotta have an understanding of what’s going on in this country.”
3:15 p.m. | The thinning of the herd (video)
The Iowa caucuses may not determine the Republican presidential nominee, but they may narrow the field. Karen Tumulty weighs in on the volatility of the Republican presidential field heading into tonight’s vote.
3:05 p.m. | Track the caucus results with the Fix's scorecard
Our colleagues at the Fix named six counties whose caucus results will be telling about the overall outcome of the statewide results.
They have also created a scorecard to help readers track the results in all 99 Iowa counties, with data from the 2008 caucus results and projections for how Mitt Romney needs to perform to win this time around. Aaron Blake posted:
... we have put together five key pieces of information for each county in the state: population, number of registered Republicans, what percentage of the vote former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney took in the 2008 caucuses, how much Romney won or lost by in that county in 2008, and a projection for how well he will need to do to win.
As results for each county roll in tonight (and be sure to come hang out at our live-blog), the scorecard will allow us/you to compare Romney’s 2012 performance to his 2008 performance, and hopefully glean some idea about whether he is on track for a victory this time around.
View their Google spreadsheet with all the data here.
3 p.m. | Barack Obama, coming to a Des Moines Register near you
Today may be GOP presidential caucus day – but that doesn’t mean that the White House is sitting this one out.
Surf on over to the Des Moines Register Web site and you’ll notice a pretty hard-to-miss, full-page ad purchased by the Barack Obama campaign.
The Web ad charges that the GOP field would enact “hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts at the expense of the middle class,” would “go back to letting Wall Street write its own rules” and – in something of a new twist to the White House’s campaign rhetoric -- would “send our troops back to Iraq.”
The ad is likely to grab the attention not only of Iowans but also of those across the country who are clicking over to the Web site of Iowa’s largest newspaper ahead of tonight’s caucuses.
Obama himself returned to Washington from Hawaii early Tuesday morning and plans to address supporters at the Democratic caucuses via a live Internet video feed.