9 p.m. Atlantic - CNN says entrance poll shows Paul/Romney/Santorum in top 3, other 4 clearly back. Drudge often posts the actual numbers which I'll be watching for. Since 2000 Florida mishap, media is much more careful in showing and using the raw data from entrance/exit polls.
9:06 - best site for results tonight? The Des Moines Register of course.
9:09 - The Fix says more moderates and independents caucusing this year. Likely a good sign for Ron Paul, who I predicted on Dec. 6 would win with 25% of the vote.
9:14 - CNN has the exit poll up. No top line #s but you can figure them out using math. Will do that and post them.
9:17 - CNN beat me to it - here are the top lines: Paul 24, Romney 24, Santorum 18, Gingrich 15, Perry 11, Bachmann 7, Huntsman 1. This is the first wave of early arrivers, an updated entrance poll will follow. NOTE early arrivals entrance poll in 2008 had Romney ahead, he lost by 9 points. This could be a very bad sign for him if that trend carries through to this year. Entrance poll this year shows Romney winning big (2 to 1) among seniors who are likely to show up early.
9:23 - Ben Smith makes a great point: in 2012 caucusers locked into their voting sites will be able to get these entrance poll results on their smartphones. How will that influence the results? Ben theorizes that it helps Santorum as it proves he's the leader among social conservatives. It may also help Romney if traditional Republicans want to stop Paul and see Romney is the only one in a position to do so. Also Gingrich in a clear 4th and within striking distance of Santorum - some of his former supporters might come back. So, in a nutshell, I have no idea.
9:36 - First results starting to trickle in. In other news, entrance polls say Paul is leading Santorum among evangelicals (!) Paul went hard on his anti-abortion views in Iowa (his Ames straw poll speech was almost exclusively on this topic). If these numbers prove true, that REALLY paid off for Paul.
9:47 - Final entrance poll shows Santorum stronger, Newt weaker, everyone else about the same. Final results will be very important for Newt. If he is 4th (as seems likely) and closer to third than fifth, I think he can credibly portray himself as the comeback kid. If he is closer to 5th, it is harder. If Mitt is only a point or two back of third, he goes to NH where Union Leader has endorsed him. The Union Leader doesn't endorse once, they turn their frontpage into a daily endorsement. They would play up the Newt "comeback" big. Perry in fifth would be dead and a strong candidate for dropping out. Lots of bad blood between Perry and Romney, Perry and Paul and lately Perry and Santorum. Might he endorse Newt, giving him a second boost?
10:08 - Entrance polls show Paul with narrow lead, but Twitter chatter from journos suggest actual results suggest he will not place as well. Could be his super keen voters were more likely to agree to talk to entrance poll canvassers?
10:17 - can't understate enough how Newt's percentage matters. If he is above 15% he is a contender in NH. If he gets above 15% and gets endorsement from Perry and/or Bachmann, I'd call him co-favourite.
11:01 - Gingrich stuck at 13%, 10 points back of third and only 3 ahead of Perry. Even with Union Leader help, that's hard to spin into "comeback."
11:08 - It would help Newt if Perry slipped into single digits before reporters start filing their stories for the night. Leads like "A three-way tie for first, with only Newt Gingrich also breaking double digits..." would be helpful to his "comeback" argument.
11:42 - Newts high hopes slipping fast, Perry vote growing - could end up a 2-way tie for fourth.
12:07 - Even though college town Ames hasn't reported, Paul is 4 points back and unlikely to win. He's speaking to his crowd, says only he and Romney can run a national campaign. Now giving an impassioned libertarian spiel.
12:33 - Newt has said he will wage war against Newt for months to come. David Gergen says on CNN it sounds like Newt's mission is to destroy Mitt and let whoever else win the nomination. Sounded that was to me too. CNN also has Newt's full page ad for tomorrow's N.H. Union Leader calling Mitt a "timid Massachusetts liberal" and listing his sins. Should be interesting. But the question is if Mitt fights back, do they both lose? The old expression is that you throw mud by taking the ground from under you. Who benefits of Mitt and Newt destroy each other? A surging Santorum? A strong-based Paul? Or a his-time-to-surge Huntsman who has campaigned in N.H. like Santorum did in Iowa? Perhaps Huntsman's message is Rick Santorum proved working hard still matters in Iowa, will N.H. prove it still matters here?
12:37 - Bachmann speaking, sounds like she'll drop out.
12:41 - I guess I misread, she says she is going on.
12:59 - Perry returning to Texas, to "reassess" campaign. He'll have dropped out by supper time tomorrow.
1:06 - Ari Fleischer thinks Newt's attack/concession speech wasn't classy. I've got to take up for Newt. Mitt Romney is the least consistent, biggest flip-flopping guy to ever run for president and he destroyed Newt's campaign with ads calling Newt a flip-flopper. C'mon, Newt's earned the right to spit a few nails.
1:24 - Santorum is giving a very powerful speech. If he can get the right clips out through earned media he'll be in good shape.
1:25 - I'm going to sign off, but in case you missed them, here are my N.H. predictions. I'll post tomorrow an explanation of my thinking. Scenario 1 with Buddy Roemer, and scenario 2 without him.