The analysis of last night's Iowa Caucuses, which Mitt Romney won by eight votes, continues. Perhaps the largest question is whether the field for the Republican presidential nomination is more or less settled as a result of the voting.
The New York Times suggests that regardless of whether the field is set, the ideological friction within the party is not going away.
Mr. Romney may have the most money, the best organization and, often, the best poll numbers in hypothetical matchups against Mr. Obama. But he has not yet been able to tap into the antigovernment, populist zeal in the party or convince more traditional conservatives that he is an acceptable standard-bearer in an election that much of the right hopes can not only unseat Mr. Obama but permanently shift the nation’s values and direction.
Mr. Santorum’s strong performance could force Mr. Romney to engage on potentially divisive social issues to a degree he has largely been able to avoid this year. Mr. Paul’s third-place finish ensures that his anti-foreign intervention, pro-drug legalization, libertarian platform will continue to share the stage at a time when Mr. Romney would like to be moving toward general election voters.
Still, for now, the intensity of the desire to unseat Mr. Obama may be Mr. Romney’s most important ally, overcoming whatever qualms various strains of conservatives have about him. Surveys of Iowans entering caucus sites on Tuesday night showed that slightly more people thought it most important to choose a candidate that can beat Mr. Obama than one who is a “true conservative.”Politico adds that Mr. Santorum has two big problems as he moves forward.
He doesn’t have the money or infrastructure to keep up with Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, and he hasn’t been in South Carolina since Nov. 12. A national fundraising surge is imminent — and his name will top the headlines for the next several days — but he’s going to have to dramatically expand his campaign apparatus virtually overnight.And even if the GOP field is depleted -- with the potential that at least two candidates could drop out by the end of the day -- there's no guarantee that Mr. Santorum can be guaranteed that he will immediately be seen as the conservative voice among the candidates. But the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers an important reminder -- Mr. Santorum's dogged determination could carry him at least in the short term.
For right now, though, Mr. Santorum isn't focusing on that. He's on his way back to New Hampshire, where he is expected to remain through Tuesday's primary there. It's familiar territory for him. He's made 150 stops there over the last year, visiting populous cities and rural towns where campaign events drew audiences as small as 15.
As in Iowa, he answered question after question until audience members grew tired of asking.
"He could have blown in Rick Perry-style -- shake a lot of hands and get out of Dodge -- but he stays to answer questions." Mr. Cahill said, "That's the tactic he's employed from the beginning. It's been town hall after town hall, door to door, shaking hands with people and asking them to vote for him."The GOP contest therefore in the short term becomes -- perhaps literally -- style against substance. Does Mr. Santorum have enough of the former to slow down Mr. Romney's significant advantage of the latter?