Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won the GOP’s Coralville super caucus with 262 votes, compared with Ron Paul’s 203. Coming in third was Rick Santorum with 114 votes.
More than 700 Republicans voted in the calm, orderly caucus at the Coralville Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Another couple hundred people milled around the hotel’s exhibition hall, but did not vote.
The Coralville caucus started late as unregistered voters filled the lobby. But at 7:15 p.m., realtor Rex Brandstatter tried to rev up the crowd by saying he was tired of seeing so many Obama bumper stickers in Iowa City and Coralville.
“We have come out of the closet as Republicans in Johnson County,” he said.
Paul, the fiery Republican with libertarian ideas, garnered strong support from many young voters.
Michelle Jorgenson, 24, a stay-at-home mom and fiction writer, came to the caucus with her husband, Matthew, and their 18-month-old daughter, Claudia.
“We figured most of the people we know were coming to caucus and couldn’t watch her,” she said of the toddler.
The Jorgensons have been Paul supporters since 2007 when they saw “Who is Ron Paul?” chalked on the sidewalks of the University of Minnesota campus, where they received their undergraduate degrees. Michelle Jorgenson researched Paul online and realized his ideas matched her own.
“I really appreciate his stance on personal liberty and strong finances,” she said.
Months of campaign commercials, phone calls and debates did not help Judy Smith choose her candidate. She decided Tuesday night, swayed by five-minute speeches and by a woman sitting near her at the caucus.
“I went Romney,” said the 71-year-old retired motel owner. “I had misgivings, but a woman sitting in front of us worked for Romney. She was knowledgeable and her son is going to West Point.”