by Jen Green
A listener to The Steve Deace show who is also associated with an Iowa tea party group contacted us about his recent experience at a tea party caucus held in southern Iowa. Here is his story:
“I attended a 'Tea Party Caucus' last Saturday in southeast Iowa. There were many in attendance from all over southeast Iowa. Leaders are very interested in tea partiers coming to a consensus on a candidate to support in the Iowa Caucuses. Tea party leaders are concerned with the splintering of the members among several candidates and how this fracturing could make Mitt Romney the de facto winner of the caucuses on January 3.
The organizers of the tea party group in my area agreed to attend the caucus, although other groups were the ones to make the ground rules. Before the voting began, the organizers outlined the ten characteristics of a tea party candidate, most of which dealt with adherence to small government ideals and fiscal conservatism. However, one of the characteristics on the list was that the candidate must be able to beat Barack Obama. Personally, I think almost anyone can beat the current president, but I took issue with this being a “necessary” condition for a tea party candidate. I think we should focus on the candidate who most closely aligns with our values and worldview.
As with the ground rules, the format for the Tea Party Caucus was also written by outside groups. They chose to include Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. They excluded Romney and Huntsman due to their inability to meet the standards of the Tea Party. Each candidate had a representative that was given five minutes to speak about their candidate.
We cast several ballots during the event; the lowest "vote getter" was removed from the ballot and their supporters were supposed to go to a viable candidate until there was just one candidate left. While this was a lot of fun, I do not believe that it was an accurate depiction of the Iowa Republican Presidential caucuses. As most people know, in the format of the Iowa caucuses, you vote only one time.
The results were very interesting. After the first round, Michele Bachmann had 16 of the 39 votes that were cast. The second highest vote getters were Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum with 8 votes or fewer. Perry had one vote, so he was the first eliminated. Next eliminated was Paul, then Cain, followed by Santorum. It was down to the final two candidates: Bachmann and Gingrich. Bachmann was ahead in every ballot to up to this point. On the final ballot, Gingrich edged out Bachmann by one vote, 20-19.
The results of this event tell me two things: that Newt Gingrich is a lot of people's second choice and that Michele Bachmann has a solid 30 plus percentage of the vote in the tea party in southeast Iowa. The biggest surprise to me was Ron Paul's lack of support in the area.
I continue to believe that this race is wide open. If the reflection of the first ballot was a proper indicator of what the vote will look like come January 3rd in southeast Iowa, it confirmed what my suspicions have been all along: Michele Bachmann has pockets of support that are not registering in polling. Take it for what it's worth, but I believe that there will be a surprise and an upset in the Iowa Caucus on January 3rd.”