Each of the below deserves all kinds of links. But I only have a moment, and I dislike links for the same reason I dislike footnotes.
1. It turns out Santorum actually won in Iowa! But news of the victory probably came too late to do him any good. He’s languishing in fourth in South Carolina, and the good people of the Palmetto state are buying the argument that Newt is the conservative alternative to Romney.
2. Still, there’s a valuable lesson here about our primary process: If Santorum had had the momenturm of an Iowa victory, he might well have finished third in New Hampshire and become THE ALTERNATIVE. But I predict New Hampshire will refuse to re-do its primary with his victory in mind. Yes, a lot less than fifty votes can make that much difference.
3. Newt is now ahead in South Carolina. The momentum is all in his direction The Anyone But Romney vibe is really starting to kick in again.
4. Sarah Palin has endorsed Newt for South Carolina purposes. I think that will actually mean something for the voters of that state. She’s really, of course, trying to keep her own hope alive.
5. The reason for Newt’s surge was his impresssive (and demagogic) performance in the most recent debate. Debates are Newt’s friend.
6. BUT tonight the ABC interview with Marianne (the second Mrs. Gingrich) will air on Nightline. She promises it will ruin his campaign. I doubt that, but it might well hurt it. The cycle repeats: Newt surges with debates and fades with personal revelations.
7. Romney’s BIG ERROR was not releasing his tax documents immediately. The truth is he has legal offshore money (that deprives our Treasury of debt-reducing funds), tithes to the Mormons (which is admirable), and pays an effective tax rate of only 15%. Well, that’s what I pay! So Newt’s one line I believe in is there’s evidence that the FLAT TAX is already here. Overall, though, the truthful evidence (which isn’t so bad) could have set Mitt free from this issue.
8. Romney remains the favorite.
9. BUT a moment ago, it seemed like he would soon be 3-0. It now looks like he might well be 1-2.
DRAMATIC UPDATE! Perry dropping out, almost surely to endorse Newt. The plea of one blogger: Don’t do it until you hear what Marianne has to say. All in all, though, more evidence still that Romney is one the road to being 1-2.