Live blog from the Iowa caucuses
January 3rd, 2012
11:59 PM ET
3 years ago

Live blog from the Iowa caucuses

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - Iowa Republicans will gather at 809 caucus sites across Iowa Tuesday, casting the first votes of the 2012 presidential election. Check back here for updates from our reporters and producers throughout the Hawkeye State. Tune in live on CNN's live special coverage and follow real-time results on CNNPolitics.com and on Twitter at #cnnelections. Read more here. The Iowa contenders are former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

3:04 a.m. ET - Iowa 2012 was the closest Republican presidential contest in history, beating the 1936 South Dakota primary, won by Alf Landon with a 257-vote margin, according to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. It's also the closest Iowa caucus result in history. The previous record was set in 1980, when the elder George Bush beat Ronald Reagan by about two percentage points. But Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Guam caucus by seven votes.

3:02 a.m. ET - Of the 25 delegates at stake in Iowa on Tuesday night, the CNN delegate estimate shows Romney, Santorum and Paul with 7 votes, followed by Gingrich and Perry with 2 votes.

2:58 a.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN: early november: gov branstad sealed envelope w/this prediction.Right-by 8 votes!! #cnnelections yfrog.com/es9emhj

2:57 a.m. ET
- @JayMcMichaelCNN: #Edith #cnnelections pic.twitter.com/NdlV7Em1

2:46 a.m. ET - #Edith and #Carolyn, veterans of Iowa politics, appeared on CNN again after Romney was declared the winner. Edith Pfeffer said she was "amazed, really."

2:43 a.m. ET
@SamFeistCNN: The Clinton County ladies had the right numbers when they were on #CNNElections. #Edith and Carolyn nailed it. Romney wins.

2:37 a.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: CLOSEST GOP CONTEST IN U.S. HISTORY: just happened. Iowa's 8-vote margin beats previous S. Dakota 1936 margin of 257.

2:33 a.m. ET – Romney won the Iowa caucuses by eight votes, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Matt Strawn announced. Romney received 30,015 votes and Santorum received 30,007 votes, according to the Iowa GOP.

2:26 a.m. ET @LisaDCNN: RECAP: CNN's found the two women who lead Clinton County and who were awoken after midnight to try and sort out where missing results were.

2:24 a.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN: There's #magicwall and then there is #madness!!! Opening night #2012 loooOng. yfrog.com/kg836gfj

2:20 a.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: FOR THOSE NOT WATCHING: CNN had two women – ldrs in Clinton County recount tonight's mix-up and keep @JKUSA in line when he ?d their #s

2:18 a.m. ET
- Romney camp tells CNN it's been told by the state GOP that he will win by 14 votes.

2:16 a.m. ET
@MeganGrantCNN: About two dozen Romney campaign staff just ran out onto the now empty floor at his HQ and started cheering and high-fiving in celebration.

2:01 a.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: CLINTON COUNTY – Results Sent: The chairwoman of the Clinton County GOP told me they sent the results at 7:36p ET. She sounded frustrated.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

2:00 a.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Perry source in SC: "We have been told to hold until we hear from Austin." bit.ly/At3aDE

1:58 a.m. ET
- Santorum now up by four votes.

1:47 a.m. ET
- @SamFeistCNN: Trending nationally now on Twitter: #Wolf Blitzer. Must be a lot of people still up watching #CNNElections. What a night.

1:46 a.m. ET - @AriFleischer: This race has to end in a tie. It seems only fair.

1:41 a.m. ET @LisaDCNN: LAST PRECINT LEFT: Is in Clinton County, Iowa, known for a record-setting fire wagon team and once holding the world's largest sawmill.

1:37 a.m. ET - One vote currently separates Romney and Santorum, with 99% of the votes reporting.

1:14 a.m. ET
- According to Iowa GOP Spokesman Doug Heye: "There are currently 2 precincts outstanding – 1 in Clinton Co, 1 in Keokuk. As soon as they are counted, IowaGOP will make an announcement."

1:04 a.m. ET - Santroum told CNN's Piers Morgan that he is not surprised by McCain's expected endorsement of Romney because they both represent a more moderate wing of the Republican Party.

"I'm surprised he didn't do it earlier," he said.

1:00 a.m. ET
- Appearing on CNN, Santorum told CNN lead political anchor Wolf Blitzer that he is currently behind Romney in New Hampshire, but that he "feels very good that we'll climb that ladder just like we did here."

12:56 a.m. ET @DanaBashCNN: sign outside ron paul iowa party -warns anyone who comes in they may be in paul tv ad #cnnelections yfrog.com/oe5nystj

12:53 p.m. ET
– The 2012 GOP Iowa caucuses is on track to become the closest Iowa caucus contest in history, according to CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon.

Before tonight, the closest was the 1980 GOP caucuses, where George H.W. Bush beat Ronald Reagan by 2 percentage points. The second closest before tonight was the 1996 GOP caucuses, where Bob Dole beat Pat Buchanan by 3 percentage points. Dole’s 26.3% in the 1996 GOP caucuses also has the distinction of being the lowest winning percentage in caucus history – a record that may be broken by whomever wins Tuesday's contest.

12:50 a.m. ET @streitfeldcnn: Romney basically gave his stump speech #cnnelections

12:46 a.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: I WISH: some kind of light would go off near a candidate when he/she goes into their stump speech. #Google? Can u do?

12:42 a.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: Huntsman emails "respect" and "admiration" to friends Anita & Rick Perry. And you think tonight is all about politics. Oh wait.

12:40 a.m. ET
- Romney, in his remarks, thanks the voters of Iowa for the campaign send-off before repeating his oft-used attacks against the president.

12:39 a.m. ET
- Ann Romney, introducing her husband at his campaign headquarters in Des Monies, Iowa, congratulates Santorum.

12:37 a.m. ET
- @streitfeldcnn: Advance staff has pulled the prompters from Romney's event. #cnnelections

12:36 a.m. ET – Santorum pledges to forge onto New Hampshire at his campaign event: "With your help and God's grace we'll have another fun night a week from now." The New Hampshire primary is next Tuesday.

12:31 a.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Santorum just tweaked prez on "God and Guns." #iowacaucus

12:29 a.m. ET - Santorum pushes back on the assertion that Romney is the only candidate who can be victorious in the general election.

"What wins in America are bold ideas, sharp contrasts and a plan that includes everyone," Santroum said. "We will win this election.l."

12:27 a.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: Santorum thanks God and silent Romney room erupts in cheers as "Flipper" at bottom of screen shows romney pulling ahead

12:22 a.m. ET - Santorum, at his his campaign headquarters in Johnson, Iowa, begins his remarks by saying "Game on," before thanking his wife, God and the voters of Iowa for making his candidacy possible.

12:17 a.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN reports former Republican presidential nominee and Sen. John McCain will endorse Romney Wednesday in New Hampshire. McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2008, beating Romney, who quickly endorsed McCain after he dropped out of the race in early February following key losses on Super Tuesday.

12:09 a.m. ET
- @jimacostacnn: Santorum spokesman says he's not coming out until all votes counted. "Very encouraged" spokesman says. #iacaucus #CNNElections

12:08 a.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: Santorum shoots out fundraising letter email saying "it's now or never"

12:02 a.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: Never knew a candidate to go home to think about quitting that didn't quit.

11:58 p.m. ET – Perry, speaking before his supporters at Perry headquarters in West Des Moines, Iowa, said he will return home to Texas and assess the results of the votes in Iowa to decide if there is a path forward for him in the presidential race.

11:55 p.m. ET - @KevinBohnCNN reports it is impossible to conduct a recount of Tuesday night's caucus results, according to the Iowa Republican Party.

"There is no mechanism for a recount," party spokesman Dough Heye told CNN.

11:47 p.m. ET
- @YellinCNN reports over 25,000 Democrats turned out to caucus for the president Tuesday and over 7,500 signed up to volunteer for the campaign, according to Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky.

"The Iowa caucus was a great opportunity to test our campaign organization and expand our volunteer base as we move toward November," Dvorsky said in a statement.

11:45 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: OVERLOOKED – IOWA: Rick Perry has won two counties – Union and Taylor in southern IA.

11:41 p.m. ET - CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein says Ron Paul expanded the electorate, Mitt Romney made slight gains from 2008 and Rick Santorum got the largest piece of a splintered evangelical vote in Iowa. Read more here.

11:40 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Bad news for Romney if a wounded Gingrich decides he might as well spend the next few weeks hitting back.

11:37 p.m. ET - Bachmann said "There are many more chapters to be written on the path to our party's nomination," despite what the pundits will say following Tuesday's election results.


11:33 p.m. ET
- Bachmann spoke to her supporters at her headquarters in West Des Moines, Iowa. She said she called every candidate in the race and that the "people of Iowa have spoken."

11:27 p.m. ET - @donnabrazile: Listening to #Gingrich. He's on fire – determined to regain his front runner status and eager to fight the next battle. This will be fun!

11:25 p.m. ET - @streitfeldcnn: Gingrich on Romney: If the truth seems negative that may be more a comment on his record than on politics #cnnelections

11:24 p.m. ET @crowleyCNN: Romney will need armor tomorrow (I am speaking metaphorically)

11:20 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: Newt can't wait to attack Mitt Romney. If this was a hockey game, he just threw his gloves on the ice.

11:19 p.m. ET - Gingrich praised Santorum for the positive campaign he ran, before taking an apparent swipe at Romney, saying "I wish I could say that about all the candidates." He also criticized the foreign policy proposals of Rep. Paul before contrasting his record with that of Romney.

"We are not going to go out and run nasty ads," Gingrich said, a reference to the negative ads from a super PAC that supports Romney's candidacy that were aimed at him. "But I do reserve the right to tell the truth."

11:16 p.m. ET
- Gingrich addressed his supporters at the campaign's headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. He said he thinks "we are at the beginning of an extraordinarily important campaign" to replace Obama and set America on the right course.

11:15 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN reports Bachmann will address supporters at the West Des Moines Marriott Tuesday night, according to a campaign spokesperson.

11:11 p.m. ET - Paul says his campaign "momentum is going to continue."

"We will keep scoring, just as we have tonight," he says, before adding that the campaign is now headed to New Hampshire, the second state to vote on the road to the White House.

11:04 p.m. ET - @deirdrewalshcnn: Paul says he got one of three tickets out of Iowa #CNNElections

11:03 p.m. ET
- Rep. Paul is now addressing supporters at his headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa. He said he is one of two candidates that have the ability to run a national campaign.

10:58 p.m. ET - CNN can now project Paul will come in third place followed by Gingrich in forth place, Perry in fifth place, Bachmann in sixth place and Huntsman in seventh place. With 88% of the vote reporting, it is still too close to call whether Romney or Santorum will come in first place.

10:45 p.m. ET - CNN estimates the turnout Tuesday night in the Iowa caucuses will be between 120,000 and 125,000. The turnout in the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses was 119,000. The lowest turnout was in 1996 when Bob Dole won with 26.3%.


10:44 p.m. ET
- @jimacostacnn: Young Santorum supporter. His mom used to be a Palin backer. #CNNElections pic.twitter.com/SIpEAFjZ

10:42 p.m. ET @EWErickson: What if Perry got out and endorsed Bobby Jindal?

10:42 p.m. ET - @EWErickson: Is it too late to endorse Bobby Jindal for President?

10:40 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Bachmann won 4,823 votes in the Ames Straw Poll. She hasn't gotten there yet tonight.

10:30 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: If I were Perry I would not drop out. Even tho Iowa is terrible 4 him, this race is not over. His last stand should b SC.

10:28 p.m. ET - @streitfeldcnn: Man shouting "free speech is at risk" escorted out of Romney HQ by policeman. Unhappy about corporate $ in politics #cnnelections

10:26 p.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN: Make a coffee run; #iacaucuses going to b a l8 count. Vvv tight 3way paul/romney/santorum race.#cnn yfrog.com/ki8yaktj

10:22 p.m. ET
@PaulBegala: So much for GOP enthusiasm to oust Obama. Turnout tonight no higher than 4 years ago. #Weakfield

10:20 p.m. ET @jimacostacnn: Jim Bob Duggar tells me Sarah Palin got one vote at the #iacaucus site he visited earlier tonight. #CNNElections

10:17 p.m. ET
- @deirdrewalshcnn: Cash bar at @ronpaul HQ in Ankeny they are carding/lots of young/potentially underage #CNNElections yfrog.com/mgzg0ej

10:15 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Santorum supporters saying the same thing over and over. Grass-roots campaigning still matters.

10:15 p.m. ET - @ShepherdCNN ran into Gingrich in the Des Moines Marriott lobby. He said his speech to supporters Tuesday night will be "positive, Reagan-ite."

10:13 p.m. ET - @Soledad_OBrien, reporting from a caucus site in Clive, Iowa: Dr. Christi Taylor worked rounds at Methodist Hospital in Iowa until 11 a.m. before getting things rolling for a caucus that didn't adjourn until just after 9 p.m. She was an undecided even as hundreds of people lined up to vote.

"I want to hear specifics on the health care plan, not just that you're going to repeal 'Obamacare' because that's not good enough. I want details," she said. "I'm a good strong Republican but I'm tired of hearing about 'Obamacare.' They need to say what they'd do."

She supported Gingrich until the last moment but changed her mind and voted for Romney. The results rolled in on little red paper ballots as her daughters joined scores of other volunteers counting by hand. In the end, Romney was the favorite, followed by Santorum and Paul.

She returns to her medical rounds in the morning. She has a patient with pneumonia, another with a heart attack and internal bleeding.

10:11 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN: Corp jesse thorsen did two tours in afghanistan, going back for 3rd. Told me @ronpaul best on for policy & cutting spending #cnnelections

10:06 p.m. ET
- @SarahBakerCNN: #CNNElections w/ Jim Acosta and Santorum supporter Jim Bob Duggar yfrog.com/ocufxjvj

10:06 p.m. ET - @davidaxelrod: One of the closest,most exciting contests I've seen in years! Bulls and Hawks tied at 62 with 6 minutes to go. Oh, how are the caucuses?

10:03 p.m. ET - @alexcast: why low turnout in iowa? nobody says "i want to go to movies, just don't know which one i want to see." #IAcaucus

9:59 p.m. ET @alexcast: campaign insiders say 3 wars next week: perry to kill santo, newt to bomb romney, paul-close range nuclear weapons against everybody

9:55 p.m. ET - Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who supports Romney, was interviewed by @crowleyCNN at Romney headquarters in Des Moines. Tune said the race is "going to start to narrow" following the caucuses. Iowa voters are siding with Romney because they are looking at who would be most electable in 2012, he said.

9:54 p.m. ET - @ShepherdCNN: @newtgingrich @callygingrich after on stage at Black Hawk County caucus, spoke after @teambachmann #CNNelections twitpic.com/82vp5j

9:53 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: Bachmann will have to drop out. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, if she can't win it there she can't win it anywhere.

9:50 p.m. ET @alexcast: winner: sweater vest salesmen are happy tonight. santorum winning among very cons, which are 47% of vote #IAcaucus

9:48 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Santorum caucus party HQ filling in. Folks here say it took longer than expected at caucus sites. #CNNElections pic.twitter.com/cbo6FLO6

9:46 p.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: 23-23-23 ! Know that Patton movie when Geo. C Scott says of battle – God help me but I love it-? I feel like that about politics. Yee-Haw

9:41 p.m. ET - @jimacostacnn: Team Santorum not surprised by how well they're doing tonight. They planed for this w/ volunteers at more than 70% of caucus sites.

9:27 p.m. ET
- @David_Gergen: Tight 3-way finish suggests fractured field. Lowest % win in Iowa history:Dole at 26% in '96 . Winner tonite may have less.

9:19 p.m. ET - President Obama addressed Democratic Iowa caucus-goers in Iowa Tuesday via video conference. When asked by a woman in Coralville, Iowa "Now in 2012, do you still believe in hope and change in America?," he replied: "In some ways, I’m actually more optimistic now than when I first ran. We’ve already seen change take place. 2012 is about reminding the American people how far we’ve traveled," according to the pool report.

A caucus-goer in Cedar Rapids asked the president: "How do you respond do people who say you haven’t done enough?" He responded: "We’ve done a lot and we have a lot more to do ... That’s why we need four more years."

9:16 p.m. ET - @crowleyCNN reports Romney is now in a Des Moines hotel room at his Iowa caucus headquarters with top advisers. Meanwhile, his election headquarters begins to fill up.

9:11 p.m. ET - @alexcast: romney winning old rich people. campaign may need to create more of those

9:10 p.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN: 3 way santorum, paul, romney #iacaucuses playing out county by county. #magicwall #cnnelections yfrog.com/kg8qmoqj

9:09 p.m. ET - @Soledad_OBrien, reporting from a caucus site in Clive, Iowa: It was standing room only as they started calling up people to speak at the caucus for West Des Moines.
The first few rows were full of people who said they were torn between more than one candidate. The room had hundreds of people but it fell completely silent as surrogates spoke about how their candidate could beat Barack Obama.

"Do we have anyone here to speak for candidate Santorum?" asked the organizer, Dr. Christie Tyler.

Laurie Phillips, a nurse and mom with 3 kids on her lap, sat listening.

"I'm undecided. I'm going to vote for someone who caucuses today," she said.

Her heart moves her to Perry but she is not sure he could win the general election. Her main issue is the economy but she is an Evangelical, Christian conservative and wants someone who mirrors her values. She told me she had 20 minutes left to decide whether she was voting strategically or for her value system. Cole, Jann and Anna looked tired of waiting for mom to decide.

9:06 p.m. ET - The latest CNN entrance poll results show Paul in the lead with 24%, followed by Romney with 23%, Santorum with 23%, Gingrich with 13%, Perry with 10%, Bachmann with 6% and Huntsman with 1%. Find the full results here.

8:56 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN: Paul winning 52% of young caucus goers and 38% of first time caucus goers.. according to the entrance polls #cnnelections

8:52 p.m. ET @LisaDCNN, who was stationed at a precinct in Polk County, not far from the state capitol, reports there were no speakers for Romney, Santorum, Bachmann or Huntsman.

8:52 p.m. ET - @RonPaul: @jonhuntsman we found your one Iowa voter, he's in Linn precinct 5 you might want to call him and say thanks.

8:50 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: Iowa's voters this year are younger and more Independent than four years ago. All that helps Ron Paul.

8:48 p.m. ET @cwelchcnn: The tallying... pic.twitter.com/9YfTnMI5

8:47 p.m. ET - @cwelchcnn: Counting the ballots here in dexter as we speak. Abt 90 people here #cnnelections pic.twitter.com/8JuO6LFw

8:45 p.m. ET - According to the latest CNN entrance poll results Paul received 24% support, followed by Romney with 23%, Santorum with 19%, Gingrich with 13%, Perry with 11%, Bachmann with 7% and Huntsman with 1%.

8:42 p.m. ET - Four years ago, Republican caucus-goers were looking for a candidate they could believe in: 45% said their top priority was a candidate who shared their values. Just 7% said electability was their main concern.

According to CNN entrance polling this time around, that last-place factor is the biggest motivator for caucus-goers: 32% tonight said the most important quality in a candidate was the ability to beat President Obama this fall. But they haven't completely abandoned purity for pragmatism: 24% said their biggest priority was picking a true conservative.

8:39 p.m. ET
@streitfeldcnn: Rick Santorum visited four IA caucus sites tonight. #cnnelections

8:39 p.m. ET
– CNN entrance polling shows a breakdown of Evangelical voters, who make up a large voting bloc in Iowa. Paul received the most support, according to the early results, with 23% followed by Santorum with 21% and Romney with 16%.

8:33 p.m. ET – According to CNN entrance polling: 19% of the voters in early entrance polls made their picks in the past month; another 25% made the call in the past few days; and 15 % say they made the decision today – if those numbers hold, that could mean there were fewer late-deciders overall than there were four years ago, when those numbers were 31, 23 and 17.

They also showed the wave of independents may have shifted the ideological needle closer to the center: the percentage of caucus-goers who describe themselves as moderate or liberal has jumped from 12% in 2008 to 20%. But the percentage who call themselves very conservative hasn’t budged: 46% use that description – virtually identical to the 45% who answered that way four years ago.

8:30 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: COUNTING UNDERWAY at my site in Des Moines. #CNNElections

8:29 p.m. ET @LisaDCNN: IOWA honesty: one man here got two ballots stuck together, could have tried to vote twice. Would have gone #ronpaul. #CNNelection

8:26 p.m. ET - @cwelchcnn: 2 of 6 ppl I just spoke to here in #IA are still undecided, literally minutes away from casting vote #CNNElections

8:25 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: oof – no Perry speaker in Indianola here either.

8:22 p.m. ET @PeterHambyCNN: Huntsman speaker in Indianola talks up foreign policy creds. Then tells her fellow caucus goers that Mormonism isn't weird. #cnnelections

8:18 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Ouch. No one stands up in my Indianola precinct to speak for Newt. even Huntsman has a speaker!

8:18 p.m. ET @Soledad_OBrien reported that in the last ten minutes, the caucus site she is covering in Clive, Iowa filled with hundreds of caucus-goers. The line was out the door. Caucus participants will first register and then receive a presidential preference ballot that lists the candidates in alphabetical order. The ballots will then be stuffed into ballot boxes.

There were busloads of kids from Ohio volunteering, as well as campaign staff hustling to talk to as many people as possible.

"It's really a horse race. I'm for the 3 middle candidates," said caucus-goer Bill Downing. "Newt, Romney and Paul. I may vote for Perry, Santorum and Bachmann. There are 9 candidates!"

8:16 p.m. ET
- @jimacostacnn: Music blaring at Santorum HQ stumps press. Soundtrack to "Braveheart?" "Gladiator?" Camp says licensed music called "Courage to Lead."

8:16 p.m. ET - According to the second round of CNN entrance polling of caucus-goers: Paul and Romney are tied at 24% followed by Santorum at 18%, Gingrich at 13%, Perry at 11%, Bachmann at 7% and Huntsman at 1%

8:13 p.m. ET
– CNN Producer Mike Roselli, at Romney headquarters, reported sound checks have started at the venue. The first song? Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" ... a techno mix.

8:09 p.m. ET
- @PeterHambyCNN: some caucus stragglers show up late. crowd in Indianola votes to allow latecomers to participate. no one opposed. caucusing! #cnnelections

8:08 p.m. ET - @EWErickson: Remember, the early entrance polls in 2008 leaned toward Romney and Hillary.

8:06 p.m. ET – Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is campaigning in the next contest site of New Hampshire and declined to participate in the Iowa caucuses delivered a message to whoever wins the Iowa caucuses: "Welcome to New Hampshire. Nobody cares," he said at an event in Peterborough, New Hampshire Tuesday night.

8:04 p.m. ET
- @jimacostacnn: Aides say Santorum will be joined on stage tonight by his family. A nice contrast with other campaigns and their big guns. #CNNElections

8:03 p.m. ET
@alexcast: more math. 08 romney = 30k. mccain + giuliani = 20. if Romney gets half of this, he's at 25. might be enough, probably needs 28 or 29k

8:02 p.m. ET
- @LisaDCNN: Time to caucus! Told it's lower than expected turnout at my site in DES Moines. #cnnelections

8:00 p.m. ET - The first round of CNN entrance polling of caucus-goers entering the sites showed Paul, Romney and Santorum in the top tier, followed by Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann and Perry.

7:59 p.m. ET @PeterHambyCNN: turnout watch: in conservative Indianola, organizers prepped 200 ballots. but just over 100 folks have arrived so far. #cnnelections

7:52 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Caucus chairman at Indianola High School just sounded the alarm: 6 mins 'til they get underway. Lotta Paul folks in the house. #cnnelections

7:46 p.m. ET
@LisaDCNN: SNAZZ APPEAL: at my caucus site the #ronpaul worker has on a sharp tie and suit. Only one in room with either. #cnnelections

7:45 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN: @Ronpaul source tells me internal polls showed him slipping a little in the final days but still in statistical tie w/ Romney #cnnelections

7:43 p.m. ET
- @AriFleischer: Newt says he's run a totally positive campaign, including positively calling Romney a "liar".

7:41 p.m. ET
@ShepherdCNN: @newtgingrich giving his final argument at Black Hawk County Caucus. #CNNelections twitpic.com/82u5g6

7:40 p.m. ET - Gingrich made his case before caucus-goers in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He billed himself as the only candidate who will be able to beat and debate President Barack Obama in the general election. He also said his candidacy is an opportunity to "send a message to Washington" by proving a positive campaign can be victorious.

7:38 p.m. ET
- @LisaDCNN: At Cap View Elem. in Des Moines, 3 precincts here but only campaigns w presence are Paul and Perry – each has signs, ppl.

7:37 p.m. ET
- @MeganGrantCNN: Gingrich headquarters, ready to go for tonight #CNNElections pic.twitter.com/qUUOI1u8

7:31 p.m. ET - @crowleyCNN: Happy caucus night from Romneyville/ Iowa branch where motto has been "if we are cautious enough, we could win."

7:30 p.m. ET @DanaBashCNN: Check out "jib" cam in place to shoot @ronpaul tonite. Campaign calls it "hero cam" #cnnelections yfrog.com/odf0xdoj

7:27 p.m. ET @alexcast: in 08, huck 40k,fredt 16k = 56k evangelical votes. tonight, deduct 26k for Bach, Perry, Newt. leaves 30k ceiling for Santo. that's a lot

7:24 p.m. ET
- @streitfeldcnn: Romney staff setting up teleprompter for tonight. He used one in Davenport IA and Bedford NH for "closing argument" speeches #cnnelections

7:20 p.m. ET
- @jimacostacnn: Santorum stage set. #CNNElections #iacaucs pic.twitter.com/NUxabWH0

7:19 p.m. ET - @alexcast: w/ @jimacostacnn at santorum hq. more media here than voters. that will change shortly. ow.ly/i/oZoR

7:18 p.m. ET - @Soledad_OBrien: People from w des moines are beginning to come into their caucus site in clive. No big lines yet but its early. I'm guessing 50 people here

7:15 p.m. ET
@ShanTravisCNN interviewed Bachmann live on CNN in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The candidate asserted she is the consistent conservative in the 2012 race.

7:07 p.m. ET @streitfeldcnn: Here's the room where Romney will speak post-caucus results pic.twitter.com/thw83khQ

6:59 p.m. ET - As revealed on @JohnKingUSA, Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad predicted Romney will win his state's caucuses. He made the prediction in November and sealed the envelope to be opened on caucus night.

6:56 p.m. ET - Herman Cain told @JohnKingCNN the Republican Party is not "focused enough" and that attacks between the GOP candidates are hurting the party. He also ruled out running for Congress or governor, saying he has no plans to run for office.

6:35 p.m. ET - Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told @JohnKingCNN on @JohnKingUSA a long primary process for the GOP nomination is "a good thing." He said "drama" in the race is not a "bad thing" because it means the Republicans remain in the national spotlight, which is "good for our chances to defeat Barack Obama."

6:18 p.m. ET
@kevinliptakcnn: check out http://desmoinesregister.com - Obama ads everywhere. someone's thinking ahead #cnnelections !! screengrab bit.ly/yH3uvh

6:16 p.m. ET - Perry told @JohnKingCNN he is the only alternative to Romney that has the ability to raise money nationally and the "ground game in these other states." He added that Santorum is not that candidate and predicted the former senator will "have a problem" when people vet his background in Congress.

6:11 p.m. ET - @streitfeldcnn: Media set-up at Romney caucus night HQ in Des Moines. pic.twitter.com/abO5uhwf

6:05 p.m. ET - @Soledad_OBrien: Just arrived in clive iowa for caucusing at the 7flags event center! Expecting 1500people.

6:03 p.m. ET
- @PoliticalTicker: Before voting begins, Romney takes small delegate lead: http://on.cnn.com/xx2LVh

5:55 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: OCCUPY CAUCUSES: Tells me they'll have a press conference at 9p CT/10p ET here in Des Moines. #ows #cnnelection

5:51 p.m. ET - @streitfeldcnn reports that Mitt Romney's sons Tagg, Craig, Josh and Matt, as well as Sen. John Thune of South Dakota will speak at caucuses Tuesday night in support Romney's candidacy, according to a campaign spokesman. All other scheduled caucus surrogates are Iowans.

5:41 p.m. ET - @deirdrewalshcnn: with the A team shooting! RT @BillAlberterCNN Team Bash @ronpaul HQ with @DanaBashCNN @deirdrewalshcnn for caucus night yfrog.com/h0itunej

5:37 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Warren County GOP Rick Halvorsen tells me he got 25 robocalls yesterday. He's backing Santorum.

5:30 p.m. ET
@DanaBashCNN: Fun fact about @ronpaul campaign. His campaign chief Jesse Benton is married to paul's granddaughter. Who knew?

5:26 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN reports that four of Ron Paul's children, including Sen. Rand Paul, will fan out to various caucus sites Tuesday, according to a senior campaign source. Two of his granddaughters, who are medical students, will also speak on his behalf at the caucuses.

5:20 p.m. ET - Herman Cain, who suspended his Republican presidential campaign a month ago, told @JohnKingCNN he has no plans to endorse a candidate in the 2012 race and instead will help keep his supporters "informed, involved and inspired." Watch the full interview on CNN's "John King, USA" at 6 p.m. ET.

5:12 p.m. ET - @cwelchcnn: Dexter is ready to rock (and rolls out the red carpet for us! How about that??) #cnnelections pic.twitter.com/RS0NiYxm

5:04 p.m. ET - @deirdrewalshcnn: It's not a caucus night HQ event without balloons – Paul staff setting up for tonight in Ankeny yfrog.com/nva1doqj

5:00 p.m. ET
- @CNNExpress: Sunset before caucus in Cedar Rapids. @ Bethany Lutheran Church instagr.am/p/eM-W8/

4:57 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Hey, come on in pic.twitter.com/adVbfqtd

4:52 p.m. ET – Gingrich will soon hold another in a series of tele-town halls to defend his record against negative ads in Iowa.

4:34 p.m. ET - Sen. Paul told @LisaDCNN that Team Ron Paul is hoping for a top three finish in Iowa and a top two placing in New Hampshire, implying that’s what’s needed to get the momentum for later contests.

4:25 p.m. ET
- @streitfeldcnn: Speaking with @wolfblitzercnn, Rand Paul ignores an opportunity to attack Romney and goes after Santorum on "liberal" moves in Senate

4:25 p.m. ET - Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, son of Rep. Paul, told CNN lead political anchor @wolfblitzercnn he's "worried about the rest of the nominees" in the Republican field because he would not want a commander in chief who would "recklessly take us to war."

When asked if his father would pledge to support the Republican nominee, whoever it is, Sen. Paul said he could only guarantee his support to back the eventual nominee.

4:17 p.m. ET
- Santorum sounded confident while talking to @jimacostacnn but did not predict a victory Tuesday.

"Well, I feel like if we can crack the top three that would be great," Santorum told CNN.

4:09 p.m. ET - @CNNExpress: Calm before the Caucus Storm @ Bethany Lutheran Church instagr.am/p/eMRl1/

3:50 p.m. ET @cwelchcnn: getting set to head out to Dexter, #IA for their caucus tonight! #cnnelections

3:48 p.m. ET
- @CNNExpress: Tune in tonight for epic caucus goodness. on.cnn.com/AEePmH #CNNElections

3:45 p.m. ET - Perry vowed to continue his campaign if he finishes poorly Tuesday night. During an interview with @JohnKingCNN, set to air at 6 p.m. ET, he said his plane will be "warmed up" Wednesday morning.

"I mean the idea that one or two states is going to decide who the next nominee for the Republican Party is, is just, you know, that's not reality. This is a 50 state campaign and it's about the future of America," Perry said.

3:29 p.m. ET - @HowardKurtz: If sheer talk tonnage about Iowa had a stimulative effect, the economy would be growing like gangbusters.

2:54 p.m. ET
- @JohnKingCNN: Will the Santorum Surge win the IA caucuses? We'll have @RickSantorum on @6p-anything you want to ask him before the big vote? #CNNelections

2:33 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: RON PAUL last-day ad: unpublicized sharpest anti-Romney attack yet. More: on.cnn.com/ABwvHz

2:08 p.m. ET - Gingrich issued an "offer" to the crowd at an event in Burlington, Iowa: "You find something I say about Mitt that’s inappropriate, inaccurate in your judgment come tell me. And if we conclude that it’s inaccurate I won’t say it, we'll withdraw it."

2:06 p.m. ET
- @PeterHambyCNN: Perry is about to speak at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines. Romney spoke in this very auditorium on caucus day 2008.

1:46 p.m. ET - @ShepherdCNN: One of my favorite pics today #iacaucus #cnnelections twitpic.com/82qi4y

1:41 p.m. ET - @donnabrazile: What's on your menu? Spent this morning thanking Dems working the phones for POTUS. Making the rounds until Caucus time.

12:48 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN: Josh romney was careful not to go there and respond to newt on cbsnews calling dad a liar, but did say he and bros have to have thick skin..

12:18 p.m. ET - @crowleyCNN caught up with Romney after an event in Des Moines Tuesday. He told Crowley he expects to do well in the caucuses and defined well as placing in the "top three." When asked if the nomination fight will be over if he wins he responded, "Oh no, I've got a long way to go."


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Michele Bachmann • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • Rick Perry • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. cardsfan

    why apologize...I've heard worse things from the right said about obamas' children

    January 3, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Can folks in Iowa recognize the pitiful nature of the candidates offered by Republicans? Are they so bound to their traditions or can they cross over and vote for a Democrat? For some that's a logical choice, for others, the color of his skin is enough to turn them away. We'll see...

    January 3, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  3. David O.

    To all of the Iowa Caucus Voters. Vote for Romney!! His family values and leadership skills make him the perfect candidate for Iowa and beyond. He is the ONLY one out of this weak field of candidates that can oust President Obama. Just look at any poll! You have a choice to either help a sensible candidate, or make a mockery of the process by electing Ron Paul, who will NEVER win the election or beat Obama.

    January 3, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. danR

    If the Iowa race accomplishes anything for the rest of the world, it will be to make the word 'conservative' stink in everyone's nostrils.

    How long can people listen to:

    I'm conservative.
    He's a moderate, not a conservative.
    I have the most consistent conservative history of all of them.
    How can you say I'm not really conservative?...my voting record...

    Do Democrats push their 'liberal' badge down everyone's throat as soon as a microphone appears under their noses?

    I should think Iowans must be ready to upchuck this conservative puke by now.

    January 3, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. Johnny Quest

    Ron Paul 2012 ... only honest guy in there... $39K / year salary to match avg. middle class salary ... lead like a true leader and not a lying lawyer... repeal Patriot Act not reauthorize it like Obama did... anti Fed, anti IRS, anti income tax... not liberal lair spending other people's money and never holding a real job, unless you call being a lawyer a real job, yeah, right... keep talking down Paul media... its not working...

    January 3, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  6. Randall Mann

    Lead By Example... As in, Let us lead by Example!.

    This is what I wish the campaign slogan of our POTUS would be...applicable to affairs domestic or foreign, fiscal or social. Starting with putting his entire reelection war chest toward some practical relief measure that strengthens America and its citizenry. At a time where so many are struggling, I find it perverse that souch money is wasted in the name of democracy and freedom. Can anyone out there imagine the kind of courage and inspiration

    January 3, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Go Ron Paul!

    January 3, 2012 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Bobby

    David O., if you don't vote for who you believe for, then y have the election and caucuses anyways? You are a fool who blindly jumps onto the bandwagon of the projected "winners". Do your research or don't vote before you destroy the U.S.

    January 3, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "This is a 50 state campaign and it's about the future of America,"

    I'll take "Top 2 Reasons the GOP Is Screwed in 2012" for $1000, Alex.

    Oh wait...can we make it $10,000? Wouldn't want those 1%ers running for the GOP/Teatroll nomination to feel left out.

    January 3, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Randall Mann

    such action might inspire? For such times as these we as a world as well as country ate facing, can we not rise above disingenuous posturing that divides instead of qualities of character that are universally accepted as uniting in purpose, thought, word, and deed?

    Is this kind of America an anachronism? I say emphatically, 'No, indeed not!'

    January 3, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Mitt Romney is an android. He was manufactured by the folks that previously did the Stepford Wives. There's a USB port under his too-perfect hair and a charging port in his backside."

    Actuallym, his fuel receptacle is his mouth and he runs on CEO "emissions."

    January 3, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    If Rick Santorum wins, then a lot of his recent racially insensitive remarks are going to come to light. It would seem that he has a strong disliking for people of color.

    January 3, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. Jimmy C

    Ron Paul is our only hope. Stop the unnessary wars, spending, and taxing. Ron Paul 2012!!

    January 3, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Wow, Sniffit...stooping to hair comments. "

    Is it something to do with the New Year? I swear you guys have turned the crybaby up to 11 since before the holidays. Seriously...an innocuous hair joke got your bippy bent? Take a deep breath and relax.

    January 3, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Ron Paul is our only hope."

    Obiwan he is not. Full of crap he is.

    January 3, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. Ellen

    Rick Santorum's own nephew came out in support of Ron Paul today, in an op-ed in The Daily Caller. That has to sting a bit.

    January 3, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    I just can't picture any one of them representing us on the world stage. Not even one.

    January 3, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. mario

    vote ron

    January 3, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. mario

    forget romney he is born in mexico too hypocrite

    January 3, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. Luke Brown

    The Iowa caucuses are totally overrated. All they show now is how strong evangelicals are in the Republican Party, and which horse they are likely to get behind during the nomination process.

    Iowa caucus participants used to be a bell weather for the nation, but now they've turned themselves into an insignificant blip on the political map. The evangelicals only care about social issues and their desire to subject the rest of America to their very narrow view of the world.

    Everybody remembers President Huckabee, right?

    January 3, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. SafeJourney

    Look at them tear each other apart. By the time the general election rolls around, there will not be anything left .

    January 3, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. Cedar Rapids

    "never holding a real job, unless you call being a lawyer a real job"
    actually yes I do. So what is a 'real job'? and what do you do for a living that qualifies as a 'real job'?

    January 3, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Bigwilliestyles

    Ron Paul and his mindless minions can forget it. His politics and speeches are fine-for 1933 Germany. Nothing is more common than a racist 'repudiating' their racist views when they think that it will kill their ambitions; the problem with that is that rational people understand that you cannot just 'turn off' hate, you can only mask it. No one is fooled, and 'The Little Corporal' has not changed his spots.

    January 3, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. SaintM

    Yeah, Sniffit is right. Romney is all Artificial Intelligence. His hair is hairplugs or some other type of science. He also has a hole in the back of his neck so his handlers can reach in and pull the strings so his mouth moves while they do the talking. Fake, Fake, Fake–a plastic mormon doll–and nothing else.

    January 3, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. Tony Speakupwny.com

    Ron Paul 2012

    January 3, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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