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US flag, Iowa caucus night
A technician irons the U.S. flag on the back of the stage before Mitt Romney's Iowa Caucus night rally. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)
  • 123,000 people in Iowa got to decide that at least two of the GOP field weren't worthy to continue. This is fair to the rest of America, how?
  • Iowa will say that they're worthy of this monopoly on the process because they are better at vetting candidates via retail politics. Well, the only two candidates who spent serious time campaigning in Iowa—Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum—didn't win.
  • Of course, Rick Santorum almost won. And in the expectations game, he did win. But that has less to do with him campaigning in the state, and more to do with the fact that he wasn't targeted in the GOP ad wars.
  • In fact, it's no coincidence that the top two candidates, Santorum and Mitt Romney, were the only two candidates in the field who didn't face a barrage of negative advertising.
  • Which brings up another interesting point—the not-Mitt-Romney candidates were so fixated on being the not-Mitt-Romney, that they gave Mitt Romney a complete pass. Meanwhile, Romney's Super PAC engaged in scorched earth tactics against any candidate who seemed to get traction. They simply ran out of time before they could train their guns on Santorum.
  • Let's be clear—Rick Santorum sucked as a candidate. He just happened to be the last man standing at exactly the right moment. The dude raised less than a million dollars over the course of an entire year, and only took over the not-Mitt-Romney mantle after the epic collapses of Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.
  • Incidentally, the supposed bastion of retail politics—Iowa—gave all those candidates top marks in the polls at one point or another, despite them (except for Bachmann) all but ignoring the state. Why are they first again?
  • Mitt Romney couldn't improve on his absolute vote total from 2008, which is particularly pathetic—more proof that Republicans simply don't like him, and will never like him.
  • Ron Paul supporters aren't Republicans. And the issues that attract them to Ron Paul (foreign policy, stuff about the Fed) are anathema to the mainstream GOP. Those issues won't be adopted by the GOP in the general election, and those Paul supporters won't vote Republican in November. They'll go third party or sit things out.
  • Take out Paul's vote, and Republican turnout last night was worse than it was in 2008. The 123,000 people who caucused with the GOP last night was was nearly half of those who caucused for the Democrats in 2008: 239,000. Turns out, Republicans aren't much motivated by their field.
  • So the new dynamics are: Romney versus the two-headed Gingrich/Santorum hydra. Romney's Super PAC will now unload on Santroum (let's see how much the teabaggers like Citizen's United now), while Gingrich will go nuclear on Romney, letting Santorum try and keep the high ground (with the $28 he has in his pocket).
  • Santorum will be hard pressed to withstand the scrutiny he's about to receive, not just from Romney, but also from the media. The big question is whether conservative Republicans, seeing no other alternatives or saviors in the horizon, decide to give a shit. If the worse that can be said about Santorum is that he was a fan of earmarks (and that's his biggest sin among conservatives), then he has a chance. In the primary.
  • If Santorum is the nominee, Obama romps to reelection, we take the House and have a good chance of holding the Senate. This is a guy that barely got 41 percent of the vote in his 2006 reelection campaign in swing-state Pennsylvania. And he's freakin' nuts. It's our best-case scenario.
  • Wasn't Rick Perry hilarious?
  • If I'm Kay Bailey Hutchison, I'm extra embarrassed that I lost to that loser.
  • I miss Herman Cain.
  • It's not too late for Sarah Palin to jump in. I could always use more hilarity!

Update: With Perry staying in, for now, Santorum takes a big hit. Romney is one lucky dude. Still, watch Perry's numbers tank further. He's been labeled a loser, and the GOP primary electorate has made clear that once that label is applied, it sticks.

Originally posted to kos on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 09:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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