My take on the crazy Iowa Caucus effect on the horse race:
•Biggest Losers: Michelle, Rick P., Newt. Rick's out and Michelle and Newt are back in their "waiting for someone else to crash and burn" mode.
• Big Losers: Ron Paul, Mitt Romney
Paul did not live up to expectations and Romney after running for years lived up to his exact expectations, a 25% ceiling -- he could not improve on the %age or the actual number of votes from Iowa.
• Big Winner: Rick Santorum
The Tea Party started coalescing around him, as the last ultra-right guy standing, at exactly the right time. Santorum, who royally failed my "Comfort Test" during the debates, seemed to loosen up and get real in his victory speech tonight. If he can keep that level of sincerity and comfort -- horribly mistaken and misguided but sincere -- he may surprise us further.
• Bigger Winner: President Obama
Republicans were unable to increase the caucus participation over their 2008 numbers - a hint that Iowa may stay in the President's column in the fall. Newt gave him wonderful sound bites to use in his ads against Romney in the Gen'l Election, and surely there's a way to juxtapose the truth of the President's kept promises from Iowa four years ago with Romney's silly rants about the President being "in over his head". Should Romney falter in NH the radical difficult-to-elect Santorum would be most likely to replace him. The GOP candidate with the best shot, IMO, at defeating the President, Huntsman, gets his last shot in NH but as a relatively reasonable conservative doesn't seem to be catching on with the current radical GOP.