Iowa caucuses confirm evangelicals reject Romney. What else do they show?
Entrance polls to Iowa caucuses reveal the likes and dislikes of various GOP factions. They show, for one, that Republicans who care about 'electability' prefer Mitt Romney, but that evangelicals and die-hard conservatives do not.
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Moral character: Santorum won with 39 percent among those who chose “has strong moral character” as the most important quality. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came in second with 24 percent, followed by Romney with 11 percent.Skip to next paragraph
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Late deciders: Santorum was the king of late deciders in Iowa, which is self-evident, given that his support in polls didn’t begin to pick up substantially until the week preceding the caucuses. That could bode well for Santorum in subsequent contests, as polls show a high percentage of voters still willing to change their preference.
Young versus old: Congressman Paul, as expected, did well among the young, winning 48 percent of those between ages 17 and 29. But Romney did better than the other candidates among seniors, winning 32 percent of those 65 and older – a group that turns out more reliably than younger voters at primaries and caucuses.
Independents: This was another good demographic for Paul, who won 44 percent of this group. And independents represented a higher proportion of caucusgoers – 23 percent – than they did four years ago, when the figure was 13 percent. This bodes well for Paul in New Hampshire, which allows independents to vote in its primary. It could also signal potential for a third-party candidacy by Paul.
The 2012 GOP Iowa caucuses were the best-attended ever, with 122,255 people turning out, about 3,000 more than in 2008. Tuesday night, the Precinct 97 caucus at Jefferson Elementary School in Des Moines was a standing-room-only affair, with 208 votes cast. Several of those interviewed were first-time caucusgoers – and they weren’t only young people.
“I just started paying attention to politics a year ago, and I figured, what the heck, I’ll go to the caucus,” says Ron Munsinger, a retiree from Des Moines. “All this last-minute stuff with Congress bugs me.”
He blames Mr. Obama. His choice at the caucus: Romney. His rationale: electability.
Jerry Decker, also of Des Moines, is a regular caucusgoer and a self-described tea party supporter. He walked into the school torn between Newt Gingrich and Santorum, but in the end it “came down to Christian values.” He voted for Santorum.
Standing next to Mr. Decker was his 20-year-old daughter, home for winter break from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, taking part in her first caucus. Her choice? “I followed what my dad did,” said the college sophomore.
Forty-five minutes into the caucus, one of 1,774 around the state, the results were in: 43 percent for Romney, 20 percent for Paul, and 16 percent for Santorum. The wide disparity with the statewide result shows the importance of regional differences.
IN PICTURES: Iowa Caucus Winners
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