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National Journal: Iowa's Effects On Local Primaries

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It was a late night for those watching the Iowa Republican presidential contest, with Mitt Romney pulling off the caucus win by a margin of just eight votes. Reid Wilson, editor-in-chief of National Journal Hotline talked with WAMU Morning Edition Host Matt McCleskey about the local implications for primaries coming up in our region.

Here are some highlights: 

On whether the results in Iowa will make the local primaries more or less important on the national stage: "I think that the results last night make it a lot less likely that Virginia and Maryland are going to matter in the long run, primarily because Mitt Romney was the winner last night," Wilson says. "He didn't get beaten, so he's going to have some momentum heading into New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida."

On the chance Republican voters coalesce around a non-Romney candidate: "New Hampshire looks like it's going to go heavily for Mitt Romney … and moving on to South Carolina, which is really the social conservatives' and the ultra conservatives' last chance to rally around one candidate," Wilson says. "But if everything goes according to plan, Rick Santorum is still going to be in the race in South Caroline, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich will still be, so … you've got several candidates vying for the same small fraction of the vote." 

On whether the Virginia GOP's ballot qualification rules would be changed: The Supreme Court has ruled several times over the past decade that parties themselves have the right to determine who their nominee is going to be, and that means they get to set their own rules for nominating contests," Wilson says. "So the precedent isn't great for those people trying to force the Virginia Republicans to change their party rules." 

On whether the ground campaign that worked so well for Rick Santorum is an indication that local politics still works: "One of the things we've seen this year, while the national primary is driven by these debates, the local contests are still somewhat local, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire," he says. "Rick Santorum spent something like 100 days in the ground in Iowa, far more than any other candidate. That really paid off."



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