1. Ron Paul -- For the last 4 years I thought Paul stood no chance to win. Last year that turned out to be the case. I still do not think he will get the GOP nomination this year. However, he showed himself a serious candidate with a close second place finish. I have long felt that Paul was viewed by many voters as unable to win the GOP nomination and that some of his supporters have voted for their 2nd choice to ensure they do not throw their vote away. His strong showing today will end that for now. Despite this strong performance, he still faces an uphill battle.
2. Bachmann -- A win is a win. Period. There are some who feel she needed to win solidly, I am not one of them. Further, she eliminated Pawlenty. Bachmann is now a serious candidate, and this victory allows her to continue into the race, and should help her with fund raising. That said, despite her victory it is clear she still has a long way to go.
3. Sen Santorum - 4th place is not usually good; however, for Senator Rick Santorum is was a surprise, and does show him to be a fighter. It also is a good enough result to keep in running and visible in the stoplight. I still think victory is a long-shot. However, he remains a possible choice for VP.
4. Gov. Perry -- Governor Perry could not have wished for better results. First, Gov. Pawlenty did poorly and dropped out of the race. Pawlenty supporters will likely move in Perry's direction as they are both conservative governors, and Pawlenty made a strong point that he thought a governor needed to be nominated. Second, Perry got more votes than Romney. That is a surprise given how hard Romney campaigned in Iowa 4 years ago and how well-known Romney is.
1. I expected Governor Pawlenty to have done much better. He needed a boost in Iowa, and he didn't get it. He did the right thing dropping out. He remains a possible VP choice. It will be interesting to see if he will quickly endorce -- at a time when he could have influence -- or if he will remain neutral. If he does endorce, I expect it would be Perry given they are both conservative governors. If not Perry, the only other person I could see him backing is Romney. For Pawlenty to back a non-governor would be a surprise and a boost for that candidate.
2. Cain and Gingrich -- This is the last time that I expect to discuss them. They are no longer viable candidates and have less of a chance than Santorum, who they placed behind in the poll. They are clearly not in it to win.
3. Romney -- Romney did the right thing by staying out of Iowa. He would have lost if he played. That said, write-ins for Perry got more votes than he did. Romney's poor showing demonstrated that most of his supporters are luke-warm. They like him, but do not have the energy, drive, or devotion that supporters of other candidates do. Romney's showing here begs the question whether his poll numbers simply show him as a default place holder, or if his supporters actually support him. The departure of Pawlenty posses both a risk and a hope for Romney. A Pawlenty endorcement would give Romney a much-needed boost. A Pawlenty endorcement of Perry would be another set-back. That all said, Romney still has a better chance of winning the GOP nomination than Bachmann or Paul.