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January 5th, 2012

The Real Iowa Caucus Winner is the Caucuses Themselves

Tuesday night wasn’t big enough for the Iowa Caucuses.  The media had to wait until wee hours of Wednesday to know who actually won the first contest in the Republican nominating process.  Mitt Romney edged Rick Santorum by just eight votes in a contest that was historic due to the photo finish, and due to the record breaking turnout.

The caucuses have a number of detractors.  Some in the media have stated that Iowa has a poor track record at influencing who the nominee will be. Andrea Mitchell, of NBC News, claimed that Iowa is not diverse enough of as a state because we are “too white, too rural, and too evangelical.”  Jonah Goldberg, the editor at large of National Review, said that the caucuses should be “killed” because they place, “too much entrenched arbitrary power on one state in perpetuity.”

Every four years we hear these arguments, and every four years the caucuses perform the most important roll in the nominating process – winnowing the field of candidates.  Without the winnowing process, it would be much more difficult to “pick presidents.”  Without the winnowing process in Iowa, South Carolina would not enjoy its history of reliably picking the nominee.

It should come as no surprise that Iowa gets bashed in the national media every four years.  When the traditional roll you perform in the nomination process is to tell candidates thanks but no thanks, you tend to create a few enemies.  Some of the harshest critics are often consultants who see their meal tickets disintegrate overnight if things don’t go well.

Think about it: Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are either out of the race, or will be out of the race soon.  That’s half the field.  On the other hand, early nominating states like New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida, often coronate the nominee, which is a positive action.  Sending candidates home isn’t something that Iowans particularly enjoy, but it is one of the most important functions of the nominating process, and Iowa has a proven track record in that department.  

Even though Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum basically finished tied with 25 percent of the vote, there was a clear winner – the caucuses themselves.

The 2012 caucuses proved:

A national frontrunner and establishment candidate can win Iowa if they run a disciplined campaign.

Hard work and retail campaigning trumps loads of money spent on television ads.

A libertarian candidate whose views don’t entirely matchup with mainstream Republican thought can do well if they work hard and organize.

The most important decision a candidate makes is whom they hire to run and organize their campaigns.

Campaigns are won on the ground, not personality.

Anyone can win the caucuses if they put forth the effort.

The results from Tuesday night remind the rest of the country that, despite all of the negative things that are said about the caucuses, Iowa is a competitive state.  We saw three candidates, with three different approaches, who represent three different wings of the Republican Party all do extremely well.  We might not be diverse when it comes to color or culture, but when it comes to the diversity of thought, Iowa just proved the naysayers wrong.

To all of our friends in the media, we will see you again in four or eight years.


Photo by Dave Davidson –

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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