Eight is enough. History will show that Mitt Romney won Iowa Caucuses in 2012 by eight votes but don’t be fooled. Romney has a challenge from Rick Santorum.
You have to feel for Romney a little bit. He finally "wins" Iowa and yet is upstaged once again by a social conservative candidate. First it was Huckabee. Now Santorum.
Let's start with the good news for Romney.
He spent little time here in Iowa and still won. That’s pretty impressive and it shows just how solid the Romney campaign is when it comes to organization. At this point you can definitely make the argument that Romney is the prohibitive favorite based on the fact that he probably will win both Iowa and New Hampshire (at least that’s what the polls show now), a feat that just doesn’t happen often in presidential politics. He still has to get through South Carolina but he’s on his way. Plus, the Romney campaign was concerned most about Perry and Gingrich and now it looks like Perry will be gone and Gingrich is less of a threat to win the nomination.
The problem for Romney is that he’s going to have an angry Newt Gingrich to contend with in New Hampshire who’s just about ready to blow a gasket and go nuclear on Romney. Plus, the Union Leader will be no help for Romney and then there is Santorum who’s not afraid of a fight. The incoming fire Romney will be receiving in the next week will be the worst he has received in the campaign so far.
Let’s also bring up another stark reality: This wasn’t a convincing Romney win. Rather, he benefited because all of the other “Flavor of the Month” candidates had deep flaws. They had also never been seriously vetted by the media at the presidential level where Romney had, so he had that working for him. too.
Romney is kind of like vanilla ice cream. Just like vanilla, he’s kind of plain, not flashy at all but people still order vanilla because it’s still decent. It just doesn’t have any “wow” factor. Romney gets the job done and is very workmanlike.
To use a baseball analogy, he’s not going to hit lots of homeruns with the conservative base. He’s more of a singles hitter who doesn't commit many unforced errors. He’s a much better candidate than when he ran in 2008 and he’s just been solid throughout. Plus, nobody has been really able to touch his perch as economic turnaround artist.
Here’s the big dilemma for Romney. If Rick Perry gets out and if Bachmann does, too, Santorum will appeal to those types of social conservative voters in a place like South Carolina. As we know, South Carolina is a hugely important state because they have an impeccable track record of picking the candidate who wins the GOP nomination.
But more than that, numbers don’t lie and if all those social conservative voters are now in play, well then at some point, Romney is going to have a problem on his hands and Santorum may end up being like a kid in a candy shop.