It was a late night, and apparently Mit Romney won by 8 votes.  Don’t let anyone tell you voter fraud is not a threat; what if this had been the general election and Barack Obama won by 8 votes in a state, would we not care that people voted without showing identification?

Big picture:  Iowa doesn’t damage Romney’s chances even though he came just under the percentage he received in 2008 (25.2%, 29,949 votes  v. 24.6%, 30,015 votes).  But Iowa does damage the “inevitability” of Romney.

That four more years of campaigning could not give Romney a boost should be a warning for the general election if he is the nominee.  The majority of Republican voters still are seeking an alternative.

The alternatives now are Santorum and Newt.  Rick Perry said last night that he was reassessing the campaign, which most people interpret as a decision to drop out.  Michele Bachmann said last night she was going on, but she has cancelled her trip to South Carolina and is holding a press conference at 11:30 (not sure if that’s Eastern or Central).

Newt obviously didn’t do well, but he didn’t do poorly enough to put him in the Perry or Bachmann category.  Newt is going on and signalled that he now will target Romney and Paul in a way he had not done before.  Her is running a full page ad in the Manchester NH Union Ledger which defines the contrasts between a “Reagan Republican” and a “Massachusetts moderate.”

If Newt has the money, and his SuperPAC finally gets active, he will do great damage to Romney in South Carolina and beyond (not sure it will make a difference in NH).  I still believe this will come down to a Newt v. Mitt race.

Santorum surged before anyone had a chance to go over his record or make the casee against him.  I will be surprised if Santorum can mount a national campaign against Romney, but of course, I didn’t think he would surge in Iowa.

Ron Paul reached his high-water mark.  He will be a factor going forward, but will not make the difference in the Mitt v. Newt v. Rick race.

Jon Huntsman has bet it all on NH.  He needs to at least come close to Romney while Newt and Rick do not need to do that.

As annoying as the Iowa caucuses are, they actually served a useful purpose if the race focuses quickly on identifying the not-Romney.