When, oh when, oh when will they learn? President Jon Huntsman is the latest to find out the hard way that the Screw Iowa strategery does not work.
Huntsman joins President Wes Clark, President John McCain, and the pioneer of Screw Iowa, President Al Gore (1988) in the rogue's gallery of those who have loudly announced Ethanol Sucks and "Iowa picks corn New Hampshire picks presidents" only to crash and burn in New England.
My main fun watching Huntsman's speech last night, once I figured out who this stranger was, was in noticing his obsession with "Ticket To Ride."
He mentioned it enough times that Yoko called demanding he pay royalties to the Lennon estate, and he ignored the all too apt opening line "I think I'm gonna be sad I think it's today." MSNBC's Kelly O'Donnell noted that the song is from the album and movie "HELP!" which Huntsman definitely needs. And may yet get in the form of superPAC money from his billionaire dad.
But despite the Money, there are in fact only two tickets to paradise, or at least to South Carolina. And Mitt and Ron Paul are on completely different vehicles. Paul will take his now usual 20-25% indigestible vote, while Newt and Perry and Santorum splinter the Anyone But Mitt vote. (Politico has the most complete results and it looks like Newt just edged Santorum for fourth place in the close race of the night.)
So this thing winds down by the end of the month. Ron Paul will stay in it to the end, picking up delegates here and there as part of that "secret" strategy that I was not privy to. The big question is what he plans to do with them. Clearly the Paul campaign is about the movement and the issues rather than the presidency, But I don't see how delegates to a convention he can't control works toward his goals. The conventions are too late for the drama of a symbolic walk-out to launch a third party run; the filing deadlines are before the conventions. He won't be able to get his pet causes into a platform, he won't get a prime time speech. And what would be the point of that? They say the dude's "consistent" but I've been listening to the same Ron Paul speech he gave last night for the past five years.
Lots of comments last night about Romney being the first non-incumbent Republican to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Number one, that was a shift from the "virtual tie" line of last week, and number two, it ignores the fact that Iowa Republicans don't have their presidential straw vote in re-election years.
As for the handful of Iowa Dems grumbling last week about individual votes not counting in the caucus process, Obama romped to an 81.5% win. Scattered write-ins took 10.5 points; historically most of those are for candidates in the other party's primary. The rest went to another Granite State tradition: eccentric candidates who file for the attention. Perennial contender Vermin Supreme scored 1.4%, and as much of an ObamaBot as I am, I would have been sorely tempted by that name on my ballot.