Mitt Romney not surprisingly won the Iowa Caucus last night. What was surprising by most involved was the late surge by Rick Santorum. For most of the lead up to the first election of 2012 he had stayed in the single digits in national as well as state polls. However, when one looks closer the surge by Santorum is not all that surprising. The conservative base of the Republican Party is still looking for the "not-Romney" candidate. Santorum will not, however, be that candidate. Next week is the New Hampshire primary and Romney is expected to take that by a large margin. The next primary after that is South Carolina. Despite his poor showing in Iowa, South Carolina is still in play for Newt Gingrich. So the prospects for Santorum are still weak.
The surprise out of the election last night for me was Ron Paul's relative poor performance. Yes he came in third and only lost by a few percentage points, it should be noted, however (as it has been on this site several times) that caucuses are tailor made for Paul. So for him to come in third is a disappoint (or should be) for him and his supporters.
The biggest losers in the results last night were without a doubt Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. Both candidates had strong openings to start out the campaign and then both flamed out. Bachmann won the Aimes Iowa Straw Poll, but as I noted here at the time, the Straw Poll is not a very good predicter. Due to her abysmal performance last night she decided today to drop out of the race. The other candidate that seems to be on life support for the race is Rick Perry. He finished ahead of Bachmann but his flame-out has been so amazing it leaves most political analysts simply scratching their heads. He has vowed to stay in the race through South Carolina. If he doesn't win there or at the very least come in a very close second his campaign is done.
That leaves Huntsman, the only moderate in the race. He couldn't even garner 1,000 votes and yet he is staying in. Interestingly enough he is the only candidate (other than Romney who has stayed steady throughout) that has yet to have a surge. If the TEA Party wing of the Republican Party stays home due to a lack of candidates to their liking, Huntsman stands a chance. If not his campaign is dead in the water.
Despite the closeness of the caucus last night I still believe as I have from the beginning that Romney is the front runner and will go on to win the nomination.
If his speech last night is any indication of the general race will be, the Obama camp has got to be absolutely giddy at those prospects. From his lies about what Obama has accomplished compared to what he promised is nothing but fodder. The best line from Romney was his talk about repealing Obamacare, which if you have not been paying attention, is nothing more than a federal version of Romneycare.
Handicapping the general election right now I still have to stay that Obama's chances to win re-election are extremely good. The Republican Party just does not have a candidate that they can get behind.