It looks like Ron Paul will be in third place in the Iowa Caucuses. It is a strong third place, just a few percentage points behind Romney and Santorum, who finished in a virtual dead heat.
I have to take back one thing I said in one of my recent commentaries. I said that Ron Paul really needed to finish first or a strong second. However, the one surprise in Iowa for almost everyone is Rick Santorum. He came out of nowhere. If Gingrich or Perry had finished ahead of Paul, it would have hugely diminished Paul's chances. But for Santorum to finish ahead of him is a different story.
Iowa has a disproportionately higher percentage of evangelical Christians. This favors Santorum. It is why Mike Huckabee won Iowa four years ago. I believe Huckabee was a more viable candidate than Santorum is, and Huckabee didn't win the nomination. I don't think Santorum is going anywhere. He will quickly be exposed in the next few weeks. He was a Bush man. He voted for "No Child Left Behind". He voted to raise the debt ceiling many times. He voted for the Medicare prescription drug plan that added trillions of dollars to the unfunded liabilities. He supported the big-government politician Arlen Specter.
Santorum also does not appeal to the average independent. Obama could only be so lucky to face someone like Santorum. I would be shocked if Santorum won the Republican nomination.
Gingrich is almost done, although we can't quite eliminate him yet.
Perry did not have a good showing, but I still can't completely eliminate him yet. He has money and backing and if people turn sour on Santorum, they may move to Perry.
Bachmann can thankfully call it quits. Iowa is supposed to be one of her stronger states and she had a horrible showing. I am glad that the woman who has no doubts that Iran would use a nuclear weapon against Israel and the U.S. will not be the next president.
Huntsman is done unless Romney is caught in a major scandal.
This could end up being a two-person race with Paul and Romney. I was expecting a third person like Perry to emerge. The only person to emerge has been Santorum, who will be quickly taken down.
We will wait to see what happens in New Hampshire and beyond.
For Ron Paul supporters out there, don't be disappointed that he didn't win Iowa. He finished above 20%, which is far better than most people would have expected just a couple of months ago. Four years ago, it would have been unheard of.
The libertarian message is spreading, particularly to young people. There is reason for optimism.