Think Mitt Romney's 8-vote margin in Iowa means he's in for a long drawn-out battle for the nomination? You couldn't be more wrong.
Business Insider's Michael Brendan Dougherty says the only thing standing between Mitt Romney and the nomination is Jon Huntsman in New Hampshire. If Romney dispatches Huntsman there, it's over.
So what if he only got 25 percent of the vote (in Iowa)? Along the way he effectively ended the campaigns of his two most formidable rivals: Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. The "anti-Mitt" became Santorum by default.
Forget the myth about Santorum's shoe-leather work. He only had a late surge because his campaign had been so inept it never attracted scrutiny from his rivals and the media. In Iowa he was the last place left to land for voters who hate Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, of which there are plenty. There are plenty of unattractive things in the Santorum file - sure to be coming out this week. And he barely has a campaign beyond Des Moines, Iowa.
Huntsman has been stuck in the low double-digits. He'll have to pick up former Perry and Bachmann supporters, and pray that Newt Gingrich's kamikaze attacks on Romney this week depress turnout for Romney.
But if Mitt Romney turns his 40 percent poll numbers in New Hampshire into 40 percent of the vote next week, then it's over. Romney will have never captured the love and adoration of his party. But he'll have the nomination. All that would be left are a few desultory performances by the remaining rivals, and a small flotilla of Ron Paul delegates at the convention.