As expected, the Iowa Caucus, the first nominating contest of the 2012 election season, proved to shake things up inside GOP race. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the candidate who has spent the majority of his campaign in either the one or two spot atop other Republicans in the race, came out ahead of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum by the narrowest of margins, besting Santorum by only 8 total votes. In the days leading up the the contest, Santorum surged to the forefront of the Iowa race. This surge can likely tip its hat in thanks to the significant campaigning Mr. Santorum poured into the state having spent more days in Iowa than any other candidate and visiting all 99 counties.
While Santorum's “trending” status changes the game in other early primary states, the fight for the top spot among the GOP hopefuls is beginning to narrow its field. Romney, Santorum, and Congressman Ron Paul were the top three in Iowa with all three being separated by only a few percentage points and effectively splitting the delegates between them. Romney secured around 25% of votes a nearly identical number to what he pulled in the 2008 caucus. Paul, however, significantly grew in favor with Iowans since their last caucus meeting gathering 21% of caucus goer's attention this year as compared to the 9% he received in 2008.
Former front-runner Newt Gingrich, while in a more distant forth place, is continuing to push forward with his campaign. Rounding out the GOP-ers are Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry (Gov. Jon Huntsman opted out of competing in Iowa). Both Bachmann and Perry once held the coveted top spot among other Republican candidates, and both watched their campaigns fall from favor as the first nominating contests approached. Holding down the bottom two spots in the Iowa race has forced both candidates to reevaluate their campaign strategies with Bachman announcing Wednesday morning in a press conference that she would be suspending her campaign for President.
January will continue to be a busy and important month for Republicans as primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida are all scheduled for this month. However, with the first contest out of the way there are bound to be new questions asked of this election season: As the field narrows, who will former candidates endorse? And, what new developments can the next round of nominating contests bring to table?
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