First, we thought Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucuses. Then we found out that Rick Santorum had eked out a win in the Hawkeye state. And now we find out that while Santorum remains the winner of the straw poll that all caucus-goers participate in, it’s actually Ron Paul who effectively won the state. According to the Des Moines Register, the majority of Iowa delegates attending the GOP convention in Tampa this summer are Paul backers. And since Iowa delegates are not bound to vote for whoever won the popular vote (which is why I called it a straw poll), that means they can — and no doubt, will — vote for Paul at the convention.
One of the things that surprised me this cycle was how virtually no Republican, except Paul (and perhaps Mitt Romney — the Paul camp always seemed to think he was also being careful to keep an eye on the delegate side), paid much serious attention to acquiring not just votes, but also delegates (who actually cast, and in some cases, determine the votes at the convention). If either, say, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, had done better, and come within striking range of Mitt Romney, their campaigns’ inattention to delegates could have possibly cost them the nomination.