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How to track Romney’s Iowa performance

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Iowa has a lot of counties (99 to be exact), which makes tracking the results in tonight’s caucuses all that much more difficult.

To help you out, we here at The Fix have crafted a chart to help you keep score. (And also be sure to check out our six Iowa counties to watch tonight.)

Below, 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.

Before we get started, we need to emphasize that these projections are rough estimates. We assumed that, since Romney lost the 2008 race to Mike Huckabee by 9 percent, he needs to improve on his margins in each county by around 10 points.

For example, Romney lost Polk County by 13 percent in 2008. So we can reasonably guess-timate that if he improves on that by 10 points and loses by fewer than 3 percent (or wins), he would be on track for a win.

No single county, of course, will tell us everything we need to know. Romney could improve on his performance in a single county by more than 10 points and therefore have to do less well somewhere else. It also matters more how he performs in the most populated counties in the state.

Still, it’s a fun exercise that gives you a basic barometer of whether Romney is meeting his goals. And we hope this makes your caucus-viewing experience a little more interesting and informed.

(And kudos to the folks at Daily Kos Elections, who do this kind of thing frequently and gave us the idea.)

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(Link to the Google Spreadsheet here.)

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