Candidate Mobility in Iowa, and What It Says About Them

Gingrich's bus

I thought it might be revealing to look at how the Republicans racked up thousands of miles crisscrossing Iowa in their frenzied bid to attract 122,000 votes.

By now all who care about such things know that Mitt Romney beat out Rick Santorum by all of 8 votes. What still hasn’t been counted is the cost in air pollution of racking up all those miles—or the cost in voter pollution, for that matter. Those figures are probably beyond measuring.

Most of the candidates traveled in specially fitted-out, billboard-style buses, à la the Gingrich mobile you see above. Certainly, the buses contained all the comforts of home, including on-board communications, kitchens, toilets (where candidates could routinely vomit after a speech), beds and booze.

There’s an interesting graphic here comparing how the candidates typically got around the 99 counties of Iowa (Santorum did them all; Huntsman the fewest). Their transport varied quite a bit, with Romney sometimes using a chartered jet in conjunction with his bus, and Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul driving rented vans or SUVs—since they didn’t spend much time in Iowa.

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