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Live blogging Iowa

The Iowa Caucus day is finally here. The big question is who will survive and who will have to ask the hard questions about continuing forward. Current poll averages show Romney a little over a point ahead of Paul. Santorum has been surging lately, rising almost daily so he could be a surprise tonight. Regardless of what the polls say, it all boils down to who shows up at the caucus sites at 7 p.m. Unlike primary elections you can’t just stop in and vote when you want. There’s a real commitment to the vote, including sitting through all the speeches. As I said in a blog entry earlier today, Iowa is more about culling the field than picking a winner. I’ll be live blogging from this point forward as I see key things shaping up in the news feeds and Twitter streams, such as this interesting posting by Rick Santorum’s nephew telling people why not to vote for his uncle and to vote for Ron Paul. It’s going to be an interesting night.

8:29 pm

Romney should have been carrying both Polk County and Pottawattamie County (suburb of Omaha). He’s not and is trailing in third in both areas. That’s not a good sign for him since that would have been his strong areas. That should wake up the Romney campaign and have them rethink their 50 state strategy.

8:04 pm

The NY Times is reporting a high evangelical turnout in the entrance polls. That’s a good thing for Santorum. However, at this point we’re still sitting at a tie between Paul, Romney and Santorum at around 23-24%. Gingrich is in a solid 4th and Perry in a solid 5th. I don’t see those two changing but the lead will change throughout the night.

7:52 pm

We’re back to tied between Sant0rum and Paul at 24%. Romney is at 22%, Gingrich at 14% and Perry at 9%. Bachmann is still trailing and will continue to trail. She has 6% so she needs to consider closing shop after tonight. What’s interesting is to see how Santorum is picking up votes in a county that went for Romney in 2008.

7:40 pm

Results are coming in at the Iowa GOP site and Santorum continues to hold a lead. The results are early and small but there is a trend for Santorum. Currently Santorum is at 26%, Paul at 23%, Romney at 18%, Gingrich at 17%, Perry at 10%, and Bachmann at 6%.

7:21 pm

Just saw a tweet come across that said that independent numbers are coming in at 24%, up from 13% in 2008. That’s a good sign for Paul so we’re a toss-up all over the map. We should start getting real results from the map in about 30 minutes. You should expect to see Santorum filling in the center of the state except for Des Moines. If the center peppers for the top three it’s not a good chance for Santorum.

7:18 pm

Another take on the high turnout, per CNN, is if they are independent voters they could surge for Ron Paul. The percentages just came in for the early entrance poll showing Paul tied with Romney at 24%, Santorum had 18%. However, as noted, Paul supporters are always early arrivals so there’s a possibility this is not a good sign for Paul.

7:07 pm

In Twitter traffic Howard Dean is predicting Rick Santorum to win tonight. Also Ann Romney was in the same room with Rick Perry speaking to the caucus goers. Attendance at the caucuses is coming in strong which could be a negative for Ron Paul. He has dedicated caucus goers but would have preferred the turnout to be low. It’s looking much better for Romney and Santorum.

7:02 pm

Initial CNN survey of entrance polls. The top three are as expected: Paul, Romney, and Santorum. It would have been good to have had some percentages to see how this fairing but all we’re getting is just the candidates. This is mapping to the polls so expect the polls to reflect. Since the top three are so tight together it’s still a toss-up as to who the top one will be.

6:27 pm

Here is the Live Blog from the NY Times hosted by Nate Silver and Megan Liberman on what transpires tonight. Nate has a very unique perspective on polls and results, coming from years of analyzing sports and, more recently, politics.

6:02 pm

Nate Silver of they NY Time’s FiveThirtyEight blog keeps very precise statistical models on politics. He’s the one who had the closest prediction of electoral votes in 2008. He’ll be following all the election results leading into the general election. His models, based on polls and other things, have been predicting Romney to win. Tonight he goes against his models and predicts Santorum to win.

5:21 pm

In this day and age of real time information and geodata, it’s great to see good applications integrating the technology. Google is providing a county by county map of caucus results that will be updated throughout the evening. For a perspective here is the Des Moines Register’s interactive map detailing prior caucus results. As you can see Romney should take the east and west parts of IA. If he doesn’t this is over for him. Here’s a look at the Google Media Center in Des Moines.

3:16 pm

This is indication of a campaign winding down. Michelle Bachmann had no real campaign events planned today, one of the most critical days for a caucus. Most likely she will be winding it down after tonight. She’s running low on money, polling last in IA and in single digits in SC, and she really isn’t getting the exposure she wants.

2:57 pm

Drudge Report’s informal and uncontrolled vote – 255,000+ vote. Paul – 30.46%, Romney – 24.82%, Santorum – 17.43%, Gingrich – 12.41%, Perry – 5.36%, Bachmann – 3.48%, others getting votes at 2:57 p.m.

2:37 pm

Further evidence that Ron Paul is pulling in the young vote in Iowa. Reception at West Des Moines High is like a rock concert. Students were really pumped up about his presence. Tweets revealing that Tea Party college students will be out in force at the caucus sites.

2:20 pm

Here is the Washington Post’s Live Blog from the Iowa Caucus today. They will be covering a variety of angles to the caucuses tonight.

2:13 pm

Texas Tribune’s Jay Root provides a look at the beginning of the day rally by Texas Gov. Rick Perry before sending his team out to campaign for him. Perry has pulled in a lot of his friends and fellow public servants in Texas to help campaign in Iowa. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Attorney General Greg Abbott (R-TX), and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-TX) are among those pulled in to help.

2:10 pm

C-SPAN will have their usual great coverage of the Iowa Caucus starting at 7 p.m. on both C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2. You can also follow it on their website throughout the night. C-SPAN usually puts cameras in the caucuses with live mikes so you can see how the caucus progresses.

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