The GOP candidates, Act II

The problem for third-place candidate Ron Paul in Iowa is that a caucus situation with a relatively right-wing voting base is ideal for his candidacy and yet he's unable to capitalize. If he couldn't win in Iowa, then he's toast everywhere else.

My prediction is that his 15 minutes of fame as a viable candidate is over. Now it's time to focus on the other message emanating from the Iowa caucus. Mitt Romney’s inability to break over the 25 percent margin tells us that with all of his advantages, three-quarters of GOP voters are still in search of someone else.

Will that someone else be Rick Santorum, or could Gingrich re-emerge? It will truly depend on the traction that Santorum is able to gain in a state where it is impossible for him to visit every county, because he just doesn't have the time or financial resources. If he can remain strong in the described setting, he will remain a strong candidate for the next month.

However, the reality is he will now be attacked by Gingrich, for this is necessary for Newt to have Romney isolated into a one-on-one situation. Romney has no incentive to attack Santorum, if for no other reason than the fact he needs the conservative wing to be split so that he can prevail. The most conservative GOP voters must be split in order for Romney to prevail. Rick Perry, after his embarrassing showing in Iowa, has no choice but to quit the race. Michele Bachmann should do the same but will stay around for one or two more primaries. Who will their supporters get behind once they are no longer in the race? It is likely to be Gingrich or Santorum, which will be a tremendous boost for the candidate who survives.