Iowa Caucuses: Tracking The Results Live

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It’s easy to beat up on Iowa, to criticize the power it has in the presidential selection process every four years. It’s not representative of the nation at large in terms of demography. And the influence of agriculture on the state economy often means it’s out of step with what’s happening nationally.

But there are also lessons and insights out of the quadrennial caucus vote – particularly if you go beyond who wins and losses and look at what happens in a broader context. Patchwork Nation's 12 demographic/geographic types offer some insights in this live map.

The map on this page, created by John Keefe and the good people at WNYC who are also covering the results there, will fill with live results as they come in from Iowa through Google. It shows not only who’s in winning in each of the state’s 99 counties, but, using Patchwork Nation, it shows how the candidates are doing in each of Iowa’s eight types of county – from the wealthy Monied Burbs to the rural agricultural Tractor Country counties. Mouse over the map to see how the candidates are performing in each county and click on the types in the key below it to see how they are doing in each type across the state. EXPECT RESULTS SOON AFTER 8PM EASTERN TIME.

Consider this a primer to reading this map and understanding the some of the broader messages out of Tuesday night’s results. Much will depend on who actually comes out to vote, but these are some of the basic themes to watch.

Winning the Burbs: There are only four Monied Burb counties in Iowa (around Des Moines in the state’s center and in the west near Omaha, NE), but in 2008 they produced 26 percent of all the caucus votes. In 2012, they could be good territory for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The Burbs, which are wealthier than average, tend to be less focused on cultural issues like gay marriage and more on the economy. They should be Romney’s strong suit.

If Texas Congressman Ron Paul wins in the Burbs, it means populist anger in these counties is running high.

In 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the Burbs. While there was a lot of focus on Huckabee’s Evangelical credentials in 2008, he won a broad victory in the state. His populist anti-Washington/Wall Street talk was a big reason why.

This chart from the Wall Street Journal shows how broad Huckabee’s win was.

Big Vote in the Graying Counties: The biggest turnout in the 2008 caucuses came from the state’s 56 Emptying Nest counties, some 36,000 attendees. Those counties are typified by large populations of people 55 and over and in Iowa in particular tend to be pretty culturally conservative. If Romney does well in these counties, it’s a good night for him.

But this could be where we see the impact of the “Santorum surge” of the last few days – that's former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. But Santorum also could lose votes here to Ron Paul or other cultural conservative candidates such as Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Evangelicals and Farmers: The counties we call Tractor Country and the Evangelical Epicenters, are by far the most the culturally conservative counties in the state overall. Patchwork Nation watched them closely in 2008. They went heavily for Mike Huckabee in 2008. Expect them to be good for Rick Santorum (or Bachmann or Perry) tonight.

There aren’t a lot of votes here – only about 8,100 in 2008 – but there are worth watching for their reaction to Mitt Romney. Romney, with his Wall Street background and his Mormon faith, is not necessarily a great fit for many voters in these counties. If he does better than he did in 2008 – when he got about 17 percent of the vote in these places – that would be a win for him.

We’ll check in later to see how the vote shakes out. In the meantime watch and click on this map to do you own analysis.