By Nihal Cizmecioglu
JTW conducted an exclusive interview with Mehmet Yegin, coordinator of the Center for American Studies at the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), regarding the results of the Iowa caucuses, which are the first of more than fifty caucuses or primaries that will be held in order to determine the Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election. Answering our questions regarding the caucus in which former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won by a nose and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum came second, Mr. Yegin also analyzed Mitt Romney’s, Rick Santorum’s and Newt Gingrich’s nomination chances.
Q: Mitt Romney won a victory in Iowa. Can we already say that he will be the Republican nominee?
A: We can’t jump to conclusions at this stage, but if declared winner of the New Hampshire primaries too, Romney’s chances at winning the nomination rises, because a candidate’s odds of winning gain momentum after the first election victory. The tendency of party members to head for a candidate who has the potential to win is the first factor leading to this result. The second factor is that prominent candidates can find more funding and thus continue the race more strongly.
Mitt Romney was already a leading candidate from the beginning. The Iowa results showed that support for Romney was not ostensible.
Q: Well then was Rick Santorum’s coming second a surprise? How do you evaluate his chance of being the Republican nominee?
A: There is resistance against Mitt Romney within the Republican Party. We have seen that several candidates have become prominent at different times, for instance Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, etc. This shows us that there is a pursuit of an alternative for Romney in the grassroots of the Republican Party. Rick Santorum is one of those alternatives for the people who oppose Romney. However, being on the rise with the support of conservatives at the same time increases the possibility of this rise being an ephemeron, since Mike Huckabee’s election successes remained very limited and he was appealing to the same audience.
Q: What is your opinion of Newt Gingrich, who was also a prominent candidate recently?
A: Losing in Iowa doesn’t mean that Newt Gingrich can’t be elected. John McCain, who became successful afterward, had also lost Iowa. But losing caucuses and primaries one after another may bring the exclusion of Gingrich from the race. By the way, the emergence of Santorum as a rival is also negative for Gingrich.
Q: So, what about Ron Paul?
A: Ron Paul has numerically limited but dedicated followers. His ideas cannot be easily accepted by the majority of average Republicans. That’s why there is a low probability that he can be the Republican nominee. On the other hand, he is an interesting candidate for those who desire a new perspective. The possibility of Ron Paul running as an independent candidate is the fearful dream of Republicans.