After Iowa

As usual, there’s great turmoil at the start of candidate selection; but things always look different by the next primary. And by the primary after that, they look different again.

The question now seems to be whether Romney, who barely won in Iowa, will score a decisive victory in his own backyard in New Hampshire or the surprise second-place Iowa finisher, former Senator Rick Santorum, can unite the conservative voters behind him and become Romney’s chief rival.

If Santorum succeeds in doing that, a war of attrition threatens the Republican camp and could end in an exhausted candidate and a divided party. Merely being anti-Obama won’t be enough, and it’s only logical that the Democratic president would have no objection to such a development.

It’s a dilemma for Republicans that Mitt Romney, the candidate with the best chances of defeating Obama in November, isn’t especially popular with the party base. The reason for that is Romney’s flip-flopping — read: his opportunism — and the fact that he’s not far enough to the right.

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