What We Learned in Iowa
Anti-Romney voters might have found their candidate
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2012 6:21 AM CST
Updated Jan 4, 2012 7:56 AM CST
Rick Santorum speaks during his caucus night rally in Johnson, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(Newser) – Mitt Romney snatched an 8-vote victory in Iowa, but a lot of analysts say "man of the hour" Rick Santorum looks like the real winner. He can now portray himself as the clear alternative to Romney, and to win the nomination he "won’t have to outrun the bear, as the old joke goes, he’ll just have to outrun Mitt," a GOP strategist tells Politico. Other takeaways from last night:

  • But Santorum shouldn't gloat just yet, writes James Hohmann for Politico, because this pesky thing called reality is also in the room. "He doesn’t have the money or infrastructure to keep up with Romney in New Hampshire, and he hasn’t been in South Carolina since Nov. 12." Sure, he'll grab a ton of headlines this week, but he needs to "dramatically expand his campaign apparatus virtually overnight."

  • The virtual tie between Romney and Santorum, with a strong third-place finish for Ron Paul, signals a long and messy fight ahead, meaning President Obama is also a winner, notes Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast.
  • The headline of Philip Rucker's piece in the Washington Post sums up his sentiment: "Romney leaves Iowa with same problems he had in 2008." He has a tough time reeling in more Republicans, truly connecting with voters, and calming "suspicions about his avowed conservatism."
  • But Romney could get a tiny bit of a break in the conservatism-analysis department, notes the New York Times. Last night's entrance polls revealed that voters favored "a candidate who can beat Obama" slightly over "a true conservative."
  • And Iowa itself surprised, writes Maggie Haberman for Politico. Though 57% of caucusgoers are evangelical, more than half the vote went to Mormon or Catholic candidates.
  • As for the Ames Straw Poll, writes Haberman, Ames-winner Michele Bachmann's dismal showing doesn't "bode well for the future of the straw poll as a mandatory stop for candidates competing in Iowa."

 

My Take on This Story
23%
20%
16%
4%
31%
6%