It may not have been the sweeping, nomination-sealing victory his supporters wanted—in fact, in might have been downright "ugly"—but Mitt Romney's Iowa win was still an important one, writes Nate Silver in the New York Times. Sure, he still faces potential trouble from a conservative anti-Romney such as Rick Santorum, but the path to the nomination seems surer now. (It helps that the once-formidable-seeming Rick Perry is effectively done.) Romney may hit some snags, but he'll have plenty of "second and third chances" to rebound. And recall that Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton had their share of ugly wins, too.
"The bottom line is that Mr. Romney’s chances of becoming president are a little higher than they were 24 hours ago, quite a bit higher than they were 24 days ago, and much higher than they were 24 months ago, when he was one of among dozens of potential aspirants to the nomination," writes Silver. (Click here for the full column or here to read about how Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum might form an anti-Romney alliance.)