Okay, I'm back after a Christmas/New Year's break. Hope you are well and ready for 2012.
The three big winners last night were Romney, Santorum, and Paul, in that order.
Mitt Romney squeaked it out, getting just a few more 'votes' than Santorum. But a win is a win.
Rick Santorum was the big winner of the traditional conservative and religious right vote in Iowa, of which there are plenty. He deserves the limelight for a few days, until he slowly fades away over the next few weeks because he lacks money and organization (and, well, because he looks like a Catholic Boy Scout).
Ron Paul has got to be disappointed at coming in third, after all the hype about his leading in the Iowa polls. But he's used to losing in this things, and he's got incredible staying power. His base seems to be about 20% of the Republican Party at this point, and with that base, he can go quite a ways into the Spring, if he wants to. And I think he wants to.
With Gingrich gone, there is no other non-Romney candidate who looks Presidential. That's my bottom-line. So I think the Republican Party is going to suck it up and nominate Romney to oppose Obama in the fall.
Given that choice, I would go for Obama next November, without a doubt. I have my issues with Obama, but I have even greater issues with the foreign and domestic agenda of Romney. It would, in my judgment, be a Bush 43 redux administration, a big-government conservatism, which is probably the worst of both worlds. And no one should want to see that.
One big question mark in this thing remains whether or not there would be a third-party candidate, either of a Ron Paul or of the Americans Elect/radical centrist kind. That could throw the election in really strange directions. In fact, if there were a decent Third Party candidate available with a shot at winning, I would seriously consider that alternative.