Iowa may not pick presidents. It may not even pick Republican presidential nominees. But Iowa most certainly resets the nomination contest, something its voters did again on Tuesday with the state’s closest caucus vote in history.
With Mitt Romney’s razor-thin, eight-vote victory over Rick Santorum, Iowa has created a new pecking order for the primaries to come in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and beyond. And, as is often the case, it will be a campaign for the soul of the party.
Romney leaves Iowa in a stronger position to win his party’s 2012 nomination than any of his competitors, but weaker than he would have been with a clean win. He will now have to contend with an intense round of questions about the limits of his support inside the base of the Republican Party.