Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucuses by a scant eight votes. But even that slimmest of victories in the state that spurned him four years ago may be enough to ensure Romney's nomination as this year's GOP presidential standard-bearer. And yet, the biggest victory celebrations this week might have been in the Obama re-election headquarters. Democrats gleefully pointed out that Romney and his allies spent millions of dollars in Iowa to win about the same number of votes as he bagged in his 2008 loss, and a smaller slice of the overall vote. "He's still the 25 percent man," said Obama election guru David Axelrod, arguing that with 75 percent of Republicans voting for somebody else, Romney is in for a long, damaging fight. Are liberals getting overconfident?
Dems should be happy: If Romney can do no better than tie with Rick Santorum, "the guy who compared gays to 'man on dog' sex and thinks contraception is evil," Obama can breathe a lot easier, says Paul Begala at The Daily Beast. Not only did Romney spend four years and $4 million to merely tread water in a pool of "unelectable" rivals, but those "weak opponents are dragging him further to the right," and thus further from the critical independent voters who will decide November's general election.
"Iowa results show Romney's weakness even against GOP 'unelectables'"
The Iowa results are actually bad for Obama: Democrats should be "bummed" by Romney's win, says Jacob Weisberg at Slate. Polls show that Romney is the strongest GOP challenger to Obama, and "short of Republicans committing collective suicide by picking someone else," the GOP race is now effectively over. Even liberals' next-best scenario — "a protracted, costly struggle that would deplete [Romney's] financial resources, sully his image, and drag him further to the right" — looks less likely after Iowa.
"Face it: Romney's the nominee"
And the Left's cheering may backfire: Republicans may not love Romney, but they'll "be eager to vote against Obama almost no matter who the nominee is," says Tina Korbe at Hot Air. The Democrats' "gleeful" spinning of the Iowa results might actually accomplish something the Romney campaign has been unable to achieve: "Incense Republicans enough to vehemently rally around" the GOP frontrunner. Certainly, this is the first time I've been moved to "feel defensive of Romney."
"DNC chairwoman: 'A great night for us'"