Iowa doesn’t usually mean much considering that Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee and Pat Buchanan all won there but did not win the nomination, although all three continue to make crappy television. Not fair, Pat Robertson is entertaining when talking about God attacking New Orleans and Haiti but as a Christian, I cringe.
The Democrat electorate is made up of dozens of victim groups. If you aren’t a victim or feeling guilty about not being a victim, you aren’t a Democrat. The Republican electorate generally is divided among three groups: hawks, social conservatives and libertarians. People and candidates (who really aren’t people are they?) can be in more than one camp, although the social conservatives and the libertarians are often at odds over things like gay marriage, abortion and drug legalization. You will note I didn’t include a fiscal conservative constituency. There aren’t any in Washington of either party. The only thing you can do is to take away their credit card.
I found it interesting that you had the top three being in order: Romney, Santorum and Paul. Romney tries to cover all three groups but because he is trying to be all things, he appears insincere to many. Santorum is clearly a social conservative but has always been a hawk. Of course Paul is in the libertarian camp. Paul is the only ideologically pure candidate. He is so consistent, he says crazy shit like he wouldn’t risk American lives (to end the Holocaust).
There is only two of those three that have a national organization in place: Romney and Paul. It will be very difficult for Santorum to go long into this campaign. Especially since every one will be gunning for him now that he is finally in the spotlight.
Right now, Santorum won’t be an effective challenger to Romney until Perry drops out. Perry got ten percent of the Iowa vote which most likely would have gone to Santorum. When Perry drops out, probably after Florida, Santorum will have a clearer path to challenge Romney. If Santorum can effectively rally social conservatives, he may help give the nomination to Ron Paul by default. There isn’t anyone battling on his turf. If this happens, Obama wins 40 plus states and retakes the House and picks up seats in the Senate. In other words, if this happens, America is finished.