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January 5, 2008

A Significant Win?

Mitt Romney won his first state race in the 2008 primaries, but even most political junkies didn't notice. Wyoming moved up its caucuses to the day after Iowa in order to gain some national attention, but instead lost half its delegates and remained mostly stuck in obscurity:

Mitt Romney captured his first win of the Republican presidential race, gaining most of Wyoming's delegates at stake in GOP caucuses on Saturday.

The former Massachusetts governor won six of the first eight delegates to be selected. Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and California Rep. Duncan Hunter won one apiece, meaning no other candidate could beat Romney. Caucuses were still being held to decide all 12 delegates at stake.

Coming two days after the Iowa caucuses and three days before the New Hampshire primary, the early date of the Wyoming GOP county conventions was intended to draw candidates' attention to the state but had only modest results.

Republican hopefuls Romney, Hunter, Fred Thompson and Ron Paul all stopped by the state—visits they probably wouldn't have made except for this year's early conventions—and candidates have sent Wyoming's GOP voters a flood of campaign mail.

How obscure was this caucus? The debate in New Hampshire tonight has dominated the headlines, rather than the paltry 12 delegates open for contention in the interior West state. Part of this focus comes from the fact that hardly any of the national leaders even bothered to compete in the state, especially after the RNC penalized it for violating the rules on scheduling.

Romney and Thompson spent time there, however, and scored minor victories. Romney wound up winning 73% of the vote, and eight of the 12 delegates at stake (two will come from the state convention as superdelegates). Thompson won two of the other four, and Duncan Hunter won one of the two left after that. One more delegate remains at stake with more than 90% of the precincts reporting.

One candidate did do some extensive politicking in Wyoming: Ron Paul. Wyoming should have been rather ripe for the Ron Paul Revolution, with the state's libertarian bent and hands-off attitude. However, Paul didn't even move the needle in these caucuses, performing worse than in Iowa. His message didn't find much purchase in a state predisposed to hear it, in a caucus in which the front-runners save Romney didn't compete against him.

That may be the only significant result from Iowa. In a race where the winner has to get over a thousand delegates, eight won't do much to tip the scales.


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