Vote-counting fiasco hurts Iowa GOP and Iowa caucuses

The Republican Party of Iowa will not declare Rick Santorum the winner of the Iowa caucuses, even though he leads Mitt Romney by a few dozen votes according to the certified results, and led Romney unofficially in the eight precincts where results could not be certified. A narrow margin of victory with a clear winner would have been great for the Iowa GOP, as it would show multiple paths to winning the caucuses. A disputed result that produces no official winner is a public relations nightmare.

UPDATE: Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn now admits Santorum won the caucuses. The episode still makes the party look bad, for reasons I discuss below.

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Weekend open thread: "Bain way" edition

Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital is under increasing scrutiny as opponents try desperately to stop him from winning next Saturday’s GOP primary in South Carolina. Some of the anti-Romney narratives can’t stand up to the same level of scrutiny. I’ve posted some links on the “Bain way” and other factors in the Republican presidential race after the jump.  

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New Hampshire GOP primary discussion thread

Polls just closed in New Hampshire, so here’s a thread for talking about the results as they come in. PBS will be updating vote totals here.

Any comments about the presidential race are welcome in this thread. It’s hard for me to see any of the other Republicans stopping Mitt Romney, especially with Rick Perry helping to splinter the conservative vote ahead of the South Carolina primary on January 21. Nor can I see any path for Jon Huntsman, even if he finishes a strong second or third tonight. I’m highly amused by Newt Gingrich’s strident rhetoric against Bain-style vulture capitalism.

UPDATE: With two-thirds of the vote in, Romney is the clear winner by a double-digit margin (38 percent to 24 percent for Ron Paul and 17 percent for Huntsman, with Gingrich and Santorum at 10 percent). Right now Perry trails “other.”

SECOND UPDATE: With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Romney has 39 percent, Paul 23 percent, Huntsman 17 percent, Gingrich and Santorum 9 percent each, and Perry 1 percent.

As Bleeding Heartland user albert pointed out in the comments, President Barack Obama received only about 82 percent of more than 50,000 votes cast in the Democratic primary. Nearly 10 percent of Democratic primary voters wrote in candidates. Of the 13 other named candidates on the Democratic ballot, two received more than 1 percent of the vote: Ed Cowan, who ran on a platform of “major change,”, and Vermin Supreme, a performance artist running on a joke platform.

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Final New Hampshire GOP debates discussion thread

Six Republican candidates are debating twice in 15 hours this weekend ahead of Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney, who’s way ahead of the field, will be playing not to lose. Everyone else will be under pressure to trip him up.

Any comments about the ABC debate on Saturday night or Sunday morning’s encounter on “Meet the Press” are welcome in this thread. I’ll liveblog the ABC debate after the jump.

Moderate Republican Fred Karger was excluded from these and all previous televised debates, but he has been campaigning in New Hampshire and has a tv ad on the air. Transcript: “Fed up with the Republican Party? Well, there’s one candidate you just might like. Fred Karger is the only moderate Republican running for president. He’s pro-choice, supports gay marriage, and wants us out of Afghanistan now. Send the Republican Party a message: vote for Fred Karger for president.”

UPDATE: Added excerpts from the Meet the Press debate transcript at the end of this post.

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Iowa caucus news roundup, with final Des Moines Register poll

Is Rick Santorum rising fast enough to finish in the top two on Tuesday? The Des Moines Register’s final Iowa poll before the caucuses is one of many to show Santorum gaining strength. Representative Steve King and Senator Chuck Grassley made positive comments about Santorum’s campaign over the weekend. Although Rick Perry is criticizing Santorum’s record in Congress, there’s not enough time left to make an effective case against the latest “not Romney” through paid media.

The new Iowa polling numbers are after the jump, along with news from the stump and some candidates’ closing Iowa television and radio ads.

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