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Open Thread: Iowa Caucus Squeaker -- 6) Bachmann, 5) Perry, 4) Gingrich, 3) Paul...; Bachmann Clings, Perry Hints at Dropping Out; Santorum: "Game On;" Update 2:40am-Final Tally: Romney Ekes Ahead by 8
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Out: 9-9-9.

In: 23-23-23.

That’s where Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum currently stand as the results come in tonight from Iowa.

Via @politicalmath, a graphic that says volumes about grass-roots discontent:

If you’re an Iowa reader, tell us how you voted.

The politicos on tee-vee are all predicting that Huntsman, Bachmann, Gingrich, and possibly Perry will drop out after tonight.

As I wrote this morning, I’m not so sure

***

UPDATE 10:18pm Eastern: With 48 percent reporting, Santorum is at 24, Romney 24, Paul 22 and Newt 13.

Perry’s abysmal showing could keep him out of the South Carolina CNN debate, Joel Gehrke notes at the Examiner.

Fox calls Gingrich 4th and Perry 5th. Let the recriminations begin (or, er, continue)…

UPDATE 10:55pm Eastern: With 88 percent reporting, it’s 25-25-21, Santorum, Romney, Paul.

Santorum is up by a 13-vte margin. Paul 3rd place. 5th place Perry’s donors who paid for Iowa ad blitz shaking their heads.

UPDATE 11:09pm Eastern Ron Paul is speaking. Son Sen. Rand Paul looks miserable. “You advance your cause by winning elections,” Paul tells supporters trying to muster up enthusiasm about his third-place finish.

UPDATE 11:19pm Eastern: Here comes Newt.

Subdued and tie-less, he addresses crowd – “I’m delighted to be here tonight.” He congratulates Santorum for his “courage” and “discipline”. Wishes he “could say that about all the candidates.”

Et tu, Newt?

Newt also congratulates Paul, but blasts his foreign policy for several minutes. Then, he waxes on and on about “great debates,” the “great debate,” and the “debate” that “will begin tomorrow.” He vows to solider on “for a few months.” Then, as predicted, indulges in a little whining about super PACs and negative ads.

Wah.

Exit music: “Eye of the Tiger.”

Blah.

UPDATE 11:36pm Eastern: Bachmann takes the stage. She focuses on Obama, economic freedom, faith. Congratulates top three. Curiously declares she “is not a politician” and talks about her husband buying “doggie sunglasses.”

No drop-out announcement tonight and she’s headed to South Carolina, just like I telegraphed this morning.

UPDATE 12:02am Perry reads a letter from a supporter, nearly tears up, apologizes for rambling on too long, then announces he’ll be returning to Texas to assess the results.

Sounds like he’s toying with quitting and not following Bachmann to South Carolina after all…we’ll see.

12:10am Eastern Santorum still ahead, leading Romney by 37 votes.

1:21am Eastern Santorum addresses supporters. “GAME ON.” Thanks God and Iowa voters for “being bold, not compromising.” At ease and speaking without notes, he praised his family, assailed the age of Obama, invoked shared values, talked about his coal miner father, and concluded with a passionate tribute to his 3-year-old disabled daughter, Bella.

It was a very good speech.

Meanwhile: Romney takes a 41-vote lead with 98 percent in.

UPDATE 1:32am Eastern Santorum back up by 5 votes. 5!

UPDATE 1:53am Eastern Romney just finished up a rambling address, a little harried and unfocused — but mostly struck me as plastic and perfunctory.

Speech grades:

Santorum – A.

Romney – Meh.

Buckle up. New Hampshire’s next.

UPDATE 1:15am Eastern Via Fox News: 99 pct of vote in and Santorum up by 18 votes.

McCain will endorse Romney in NH tomorrow.

Flashback 2010: Beware of McCain Regression Syndrome

***

Can this circus get any weirder? Ballots from two precincts are missing. Via Todd Starnes on Twitter: ” IA GOP tells Fox there will be an announcement if and when they find the missing caucus results.”

UPDATE 1:41 CNN reporting that Romney is up by one vote. Google spreadsheet showing Santorum up by 4.

UPDATE 2:03am Eastern CBS reports on Twitter – “Romney team says he won by 14 votes. Just talked to state party officials.”

Imagine if actual delegates were at stake…yeesh.

Update 2:40am: Final tally just announced. Romney wins (or rather, “wins”) by 8.

Record-breaking turnout: 122,255 votes cast, according to Iowa GOP.

But even with all that, Romney did not beat his 2008 Iowa performance (six votes less this time around).

Romney 30,015 to Santorum 30,007.

(Republished from MichelleMalkin.com by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2012 Campaign, GOP, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich