Three primaries/caucuses, three different winners. So what has this primary season told us so far? Not much, to be honest. I still stand behind my original prediction that Mitt Romney will be the eventual nominee, but it will take longer than I had originally thought it would. Conservative voters still do not have a candidate that they can get behind.
One thing that has been learned is that Ron Paul is not competitive in this primary. Three straight third place finishes is not a good showing and is not something to run on. As "truly" conservative as Paul is supposed to be South Carolina should have been an easy pick-up for him but instead he finished a very distant third behind winner Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
What we did learn in South Carolina is that the voters, in that state at least, are willing to overlook their family values first mantra to vote for someone they hope holds the rest of their conservative values at heart. He does not, as his Congressional record showed. In politics, however, the past does not matter if you do not want it to. Personal finances matter especially if you cheat the government out of money, but being married three times and cheating on two of the wives does not seem to really matter.
What the first three primaries/caucuses has shown is that the "not-Romney" crowd still does not have a candidate that they want to fully get behind. As long as their are two candidates vying for the far-right conservative vote Romney will win the nomination. If one were to drop out that would almost certainly hurt Romney's chances. Since Santorum eventually picked up Iowa and Gingrich won South Carolina neither will be dropping out anytime soon.
The only true surprise was Rick Perry dropping out just days before the South Carolina primary, a state that he had declared weeks earlier he would make any decisions after the primary.
As of last night the current rankings by delegates are:
Romney with 31, Gingrich with 26, Paul with 10, and Santorum with 8.
CNN also has a predictor that allows you to predict all the races to the end.
Oddly enough the delegate count on this page is much different than CNN's official count, but it is still an interesting game.