As the votes were being counted Tuesday night in a tight Republican caucus battle, supporters gathered at parties scattered throughout the Des Moines area to watch the results come in — and to wait to hear from their candidates.
Because of the closeness of the race, backers of candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum had to wait hours before the two men addressed the crowd. The other four running in Iowa — Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry — took the stage earlier in the night to thank their supporters.
The mood at the candidate parties ranged from jubilant to somber, depending on how each candidate fared in the voting.
Here is a look at what the scene was like Tuesday night at the candidate parties:
Rick Santorum: There was plenty of excitement at Santorum's party at the in Johnston, with one supporter running through the room with arms in the air yelling "Victory!"
At about 11:15 p.m., with a handful of votes still to be counted and the outcome of the caucus still undetermined, Santorum took the podium to address supporters who had been waiting for hours to hear him speak.
"Game on!" he told the crowd.
"People asked how I could go to 99 counties, continue in Iowa," he said. "I have survived the challenges so far from the daily grace that comes from God."
"Thank you so much Iowa," he added. "You, you by standing up and not compromising, by standing up and being bold and leading with the burden and responsibility of going first have taken the first step in taking back this country."
And while many backed Santorum because of his conservative position on social issues, he made it clear that the economy was a key issue for him as the campaign moves forward.
"We need to be competitive. When I traveled around Iowa to the small towns, I found a lot of those small towns were like those I traveled to in Pennsylvania. They are around manufacturing ... we found those jobs were leaving Iowa. Because our workers didn't want to work?… No, it was because of the government," he said.
"This has been an incredible journey," Santorum told his supporters, "99 counties, 300-plus town hall meetings, 37 Pizza Ranches. ... You'll notice I'm not buttoning my jacket for a reason. I love Iowa, but the state fare can be thickening."
"Those that believed in the cause and were willing to stand behind us: To each and everyone of you I want to thank you for leading and doing what was necessary for liberty," Santorum said.
Katy Kauffman, 40, a teacher from Ankeny, served as a precinct captain at Northview Middle School earlier in the night before attending Santorum's event.
Kauffman said she was not surprised by his finish in tonight's caucuses.
"I said about a month ago that I thought he was going to pull a Mike Huckabee," she said of the campaign's last-minute momentum.
Kauffman credits his hard work, and all the time he spent in Iowa, especially it's outlying areas.
"Big cities might have gone to Romney, but it was Santorum's hard work that got all the others," Kauffman said. "People really go to know him."
Mitt Romney: Because of the closeness of the race, Romney didn't address supporters at the Hotel Fort Des Moines in downtown Des Moines until about 11:45 p.m.
"Thank you Iowa for giving us a great sendoff in Iowa. We're going to get America back on track," he told the crowd.
Romney says he had 52 members of his staff in Iowa four years ago. This time around he only had five and he did better Tuesday than he did four years ago.
His speech is focused on attacking President Obama, saying the Democrat is "over his head" in dealing with the country's faltering economy.
"You have 25 million people out of work. This is not just a statistic. These are real people," Romney said.
Romney says he will go to work to put people back to work.
Romney also said that overturning "Obamacare," as the president's opponents call the federal health-care law, will be his first duty in office. The crowd gave a huge roar for that statement.
Romney says will give people back their inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
"The right course for America is to restore the principles that make us a shining city on the hill."
Hundreds of people packed into the crowded Grand Ballroom and an additional
overflow room down the hall waited hours to get a glimpse of the man they believe would be the next president of the United States.
Mark Hanson of Waukee says Romney’s personal history — specifically his ability to juggle law school and a family — impressed him from the start.
“When you do it with as much grace as he did, that’s impressive,” Hanson said.
Hanson says he would have preferred to see Romney in Iowa more often than just in the last two weeks, but he understands his strategy.
“The last time he was in Iowa, he got screwed,” Hanson said. “He spent all this time in the state, he played the game like he was supposed to and they didn’t support him.”
Mike Ayers of Waukee says his reasons for backing Romney are simple: Barack Obama has to go.
“I’m out-of-my-mind worried about Obama being in office another four years,” he said. “I’m scared to death. It just can’t happen.”
Ayers said Romney’s solid family values and his longevity are what have impressed him the most.
“To be able to accomplish everything he has, he has to have good values,” he said.
Matt Wilford, 24, is a student at the University of Iowa. He’s from Detroit so he couldn’t caucus but said there’s no question who he will back come November.
“The thing about Mitt Romney is that he believes in America,” Wilford said. “He’s said it all along, it’s not whether you connect with his politics, or his policies. As long as you believe in America, everything will be OK."
Ron Paul: Addressing supporters at the after it was clear that he placed third in Tuesday's race, Paul said: "We came out of this with three winners. We will all go on and raise the money we need and a lot of that is thanks to you. You help me along and without your enthusiasm, we couldn't do what we do.
"There is no one else that has people like you working as hard as you do, who believe in something. Your enthusiasm has been unbelievable," Paul added. "We have a fantastic showing that challenges people, who will not put up with the status quo in this country."
As the crowd cheered and applauded, Paul told them that his showing in Iowa would propel his campaign forward.
"This momentum will continue to New Hampshire, this movement will continue, and we'll continue to keep scoring just like we did tonight," he said. "We're ready and raring to move on to the next step, which is New Hampshire!"
Newt Gingrich: The crowd was pretty sedate, despite a well-stocked cash bar at the ballroom at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in downtown Des Moines.
They raised handmade signs when Gingrich arrived shortly after 10 p.m. — to a recording of "Eye of the Tiger," the theme from "Rocky." Fewer than 100 people gathered and most cleared out immediately after Gingrich left.
Flanked by his wife, Calista, and friends and family, Gingrich was brief in his comments.
He congratulated Santorum and praised him for running a positive campaign, but mosty recapped the key ideas in his campaign. He did have a pointed aside for Paul. While congratulating Paul on his strong showing, he said, "his views on foreign policy are stunningly dangerous for the United States."
Some key Polk County Republicans, including Polk County Republican Party Chairman Kevin McLaughlin, said negative TV ads hurt Gingrich in the past month, but did not mortally wound him.
Gingrich, himself, said of the ads, "we survived I think, the biggest onslaught in the history of the American primary."
Rick Perry: Beverly Nuckols, a doctor from New Braunfels, Texas, was among a group of supporters watching results come in at the Texas govenor's party at the .
Dozens of people milled about the main lobby of the hotel and also in the Des Moines Room, where Perry's disappointing results were flashed across flat panel televisions.
Nuckols arrived from Texas on Wednesday and spoke for the man at a West Des Moines caucus location before coming to the hotel. “I do believe in the man,” she said.
The doctor and pro-life advocate said Perry has a good understanding of bioethics issues.
Perry came out and addressed his supporters in the Sheraton late into the evening thanking the group that had come from more than 30 states to support him. He read a letter from a supporter surrounded by his wife, Anita, and their children and then said that he didn't run because he thought be would become president, but that he wanted to serve his nation one last time.
“Our country is in trouble,” Perry said. “Our country is not really on the track we want it to be on.”
But with the voters decision in Iowa he said that he would return to Texas and assess the caucus results and “determine whether there is a path forward for myself.”
Michele Bachmann: Speaking to supporters at the , Bachmann sounded like a candidate who had no intentions of dropping out of the race,
With about 100 supporters in the room, Michele Bachmann was introduced as "the next president of the United States." What her campaign lacked in support it made up in moxie."
Though she finished sixth, she showed no signs of giving up as she was surrounded at the podium by members of her family, including her mother and husband, children and foster children.
"Right here is the real, real deal," said Iowa State Sen. Brad Zaun as he introduced the diminutive candidate. "This is what we need in this country. This lady here, pound for pound, is the toughest person in Washington D.C."
If pundits were expecting her to announce that she was suspending her campaign, she didn't reward them.
"The people of Iowa have spoken and they have written the very first chapter in this long journey to take our country back from Barack Obama," she said. "The people of Iowa who chose tonight. It wasn’t the pundits. It wasn’t the media."
Bachmann said the pundits and media will attempt to pick a nominee based on Tuesday's results. "I prefer to let the people of the country decide who will represent us," she said.
"Barrack Obama will be …" Bachmann shouted.
"A one-term president," supporters bellowed in response.
— Ashlee Kieler, Anne Carothers-Kay, Jody Gifford, Beth Dalbey, Megan VerHelst and Jessica Miller contributed to this report.