Oh, Iowa, so darn convoluted.
And I’m not even talking about what it all means now, in the aftermath, when everybody’s slogging through New Hampshire.
I mean last week: We all went to bed Wednesday at 4 a.m. reasonably sure Mitt Romney had pulled it out. Not well, mind you -- he got a slightly lower percentage and 6 fewer votes than in 2008. But in the end, there he was, sitting atop the Iowa anthill with his conquering and steady 25 percent.
So I did my calculations here at Citylife and figured out whose predictions last week had come the closest -- maybe even closer than me! -- to the actual vote tallies. After all, I’d promised the lucky prognosticator a bottle of genuine Iowa bourbon courtesy of Cedar Ridge Distillery. The second runner up had been promised a bottle of authentic Iowa fruit and grain Clearheart vodka.
And then ... and then ... some Iowan with a mean streak in some tiny precinct in some tiny county somewhere decided there had been a mistake. Yeah, he said his precinct had a total of 2 Romney votes, not 22, the way the state was reporting.
So where does that leave us?
Well, I decided to follow Rick Santorum’s lead. After all, he’d be the beneficiary if those 20 extra votes were invalidated. But Santorum says it’s okay, he’s not going to contest it. He probably figures it’s not worth the hassle to get the 7 delegates Romney will harvest from this versus his own 6: net gain 1 delegate and lots of sour-winner publicity.
In other words, I’m sticking with Romney on this one. If the Iowa state certification process a week and a day from now says otherwise and crowns Santorum, I’ll pitch in for a bottle of Cedar Ridge rum out of my own pocket and go take some shots with that winner.
So how’d I do with my predictions? Well, but for Santorum’s surge, which propelled him into second, I had my order right.
But I thought the battle would be between Santorum and Ron Paul for second place -- I had them within 3/10 of each other -- not between Romney and Santorum for first. I thought the wild card was Paul (I don’t get his appeal, I confess), and that Santorum had reached an organizational ceiling. While I thought he had more potential support, given the nature of the caucuses, I didn’t think Santorum had the time to translate his last minute surge into actual votes.
Percentage wise, I gave too much credence to the possibility of miscellaneous -- the stray votes for Buddy Roemer, Herman Cain, etc -- which lowered all my totals. (As it turned out, Cain got 58 votes, Roemer 31, other candidates 117 and 135 people actually bothered to caucus and cast a no preference vote ... )
But I still came pretty darn close: I called Romney for 23.5 percent and he got 25; I called Rick Perry at 11 and he got 10; I said Jon Huntsman would get 2 and he got 1.
I underestimated Paul by almost 3 points, overestimated Newt Gingrich by almost 2, and thought Michelle Bachman would get 3 more points than her campaign-ending 5.
How did Citylife readers do? In other words, who gets the booze?
Almost everybody topped their lists with Romney, but almost everyone, like me, thought Paul would come in second. Two readers did not: Alejandro Riera of Chicago and Alison Keating of Pittsburgh, P-A.
Both got the top tier right: Romney, Santorum and Paul. And both juggled Bachman in the bottom tier: Alejandro placed her above Perry, for fifth place, and Alison placed her dead last, correctly guessing her at 5 percent, but optimistically putting Huntsman above her at 7.
I’m calling it for Alejandro, though: on the percentages, he comes closest -- in fact, he nailed Romney’s 25, and correctly guessed the contest would be between Romney and Santorum for first. He placed Santorum at 22 and Paul a distant 17.
Tomorrow’s Alejandro’s 22 year wedding anniversary (Happy Anniversary, Ale & Olga!), so it’s a timely win.
I’ll send Alison her vodka and a book or something.
And if Santorum somehow prevails, I’m looking at you, Robert Gold!