President Barack Obama carried Iowa in winning election to a second term, prevailing in one of the election’s most competitive states where he and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are well known from years of campaigning for the White House.
Iowa and its six electoral votes figured prominently in both his and Romney’s calculations for victory in this year’s race. The win was a particular boost for Obama, who throughout the campaign had counted on keeping the state in his column.
With 64 percent of Iowa’s precincts reporting, Obama had 53 percent of the vote to Romney’s 46 percent, according to the Associated Press.
Both campaigns showered the state with attention, advertising and organizational muscle, given its track record of supporting either party’s presidential candidate and with polls consistently showing a close race between Obama and Romney. Obama carried the state in 2008.
Independent voters outnumber both Republicans and Democrats in Iowa. Yet the state has a strong two-party system because the Iowa caucuses that begin the presidential nomination process attract so much attention every four years.
This year’s politicking played out against the backdrop of a stronger economy than the nation as a whole.
Iowa’s unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in September, below the national average of 7.8 percent that month. The state has prospered from strong farm prices, though this year’s drought has hurt the size and profitability of the harvest.
Romney campaigned aggressively in Iowa beginning in 2007, in his unsuccessful bid for his party’s 2008 presidential nomination. He lost the ’08 Republican caucuses to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Obama’s win in that year’s Democratic caucuses launched him on his path to the White House and was followed by a 10-percentage-point victory over his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona, in the November general election. As president, Obama frequently returned to Iowa to keep up relations.
Voting in the 2012 campaign began with Iowa’s Jan. 3 party caucuses, a contest that on the Republican side became mired in confusion. State Republican officials initially declared Romney the winner over former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania by eight votes, then more than two weeks later said final returns showed Santorum had won by 34 votes.
Unlike other general-election battlegrounds including Nevada, Colorado and Virginia, Obama didn’t have the demographic advantage in Iowa of a high proportion of Hispanic and younger voters, both groups he typically receives stronger support from.
If past tradition holds, a new crop of presidential candidates for 2016 will start venturing into the state to start testing the waters early next year.