Ron Paul didn't win the Iowa caucus (at least, he didn't win the popular vote -- the delegate count may be a different story) but it wasn't because peace voters didn't show up. Indeed, peace voters did show up, in higher numbers than anticipated; and they voted for Ron Paul, in higher numbers than anticipated.
Reporting on entrance polls, Nate Silver noted Tuesday evening:
Another key finding in the entrance polls so far: almost 30 percent of voters identify as either independent or Democratic, much higher than in 2008 and toward the high range of the estimates that pollsters made in their likely voter models. The entrance polls report that about half of those voters are breaking for Ron Paul.
On Sunday, Public Policy Polling had reported:
Paul still has a very decent chance at winning on Tuesday -- it just depends on whether his unusual coalition of young voters and non-Republicans really comes out to caucus. Among actual Republican voters Paul is tied for 3rd place with Gingrich at 17%, behind Romney's 21% and Santorum's 19%. But with independents and Democrats who plan to vote, which we peg at 24% of the electorate, Paul leads with 30% to just 14% each for Santorum and Romney.
There's a similar divide along age lines. With seniors Paul is in only 5th place at 11%, well behind Romney's 27%, Gingrich's 19%, Santorum's 17%, and Perry's 12%. But with voters under 45, who we think will make a larger share of the electorate than they did in 2008, Paul's at 30% to 19% for Santorum and 14% for Romney.
According to the entrance polls, these people really did come out to caucus -- in even higher numbers than PPP had estimated. Nearly 30% were Democrats and independents, rather than 24%, and 43% of them supported Ron Paul, rather than merely 30%. 48% of voters 17-29 supported Ron Paul. 26% of voters 30-44 supported Ron Paul.
There are other useful results in the entrance poll. Among the people who said they were most concerned about the federal budget deficit, the candidate won who opposes war with Iran, wants to end the war in Afghanistan, and wants to cut the military budget. Among voters who said that it was most important to them that the candidate was a "true conservative," the candidate won who opposes war with Iran, wants to end the war in Afghanistan, and wants to cut the military budget.
The candidate who opposes war with Iran also won 18% of the vote of those who "as born-again or evangelical Christian"; 19% of the vote of people who identified themselves at "Tea Party"; and 15% of the people who described themselves as "very conservative."
Going forward, this means that there is a substantial group of voters who is willing to vote for a peace candidate in a Republican primary or caucus -- if they have a peace candidate to vote for. And this result will be seen not just in future Presidential primaries and caucuses, but in Congressional races -- if there is a peace candidate to vote for.
You could say the Iowa caucus was a coming-out party for the new Republican peace movement.
If you're a person that cares about working with Congress to end wars, prevent new ones, and stop the Pentagon from hogging so much of our national resources, this is a very big deal. The day we get 21% of the Republicans in the House and Senate to vote to end the war in Afghanistan, oppose war with Iran, and cut the military budget, I will change my Facebook picture to a photograph of Ayn Rand.