Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished third in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, but that might not be the end of the story for Paul and the Hawkeye State.
First, recall that the Iowa GOP caucuses are about more than picking a presidential candidate; that's only one part of the process. They also help decide party platform issues and elect delegates to the Republican County Convention -- the first step to running as a delegate for the Republican National Convention.
As Business Insider noted, Paul's huge organizational effort focused not just on getting votes, but on making sure Paul supporters stayed afterward to get themselves elected county delegates -- the first stage in fortifying a solid wall of support come national convention time in Tampa, Fla. in August.
Business Insider explained in an exclusive: [emphasis added]
That's because Iowa's Republican caucuses are non-binding — they are technically just a straw poll, so once selected, delegates are free to vote for whichever presidential candidate they choose.
"Part of what we've been training the Ron Paul people to do is not to leave after the vote," Dan Godzich, a senior campaign adviser, told BI. "Stay and get elected to the conventions and get us those delegates."
In the weeks leading up to the caucuses, Paul advisers pounded the state, making sure supporters knew what to do and organizing slates of delegates so that even if Paul lost the overall vote, he would still be well-placed in the delegate count.
Sources told Business Insider the Paul campaign is happy with the number of delegates it netted. While not providing specifics, the site reported a source said Paul "nailed down the delegates in all of Iowa's smaller counties, and made a strong showing in several larger ones."
Addressing supporters Tuesday night, Paul framed his campaign as a movement and vowed to keep its momentum rolling.
“We have tremendous opportunity to continue this momentum. It won’t be long that there’s going to be an election up in New Hampshire, and believe me, this momentum is going to continue and this movement is going to continue, and we are going to keep scoring, just as we have tonight,” he said.
Editor's note: The headline of this article has been changed to reflect a more accurate characterization.