Things just got very interesting in the Republican primary race.
CNN is reporting the Rick Perry will drop out of the race, today. CNN also reports that the certification of the Iowa Caucus results has Santorum defeating Romney by 34 votes. However several precincts are missing and the full results may never be known.
For the past several days staunch conservatives and right wing blogs have encouraged fringe candidates like Perry and Ron Paul to get out of the race so their supporters could coalesce behind one candidate to defeat Mitt Romney. Their reasoning is that the large number of conservative candidates has fractured the right wing vote; paving the path for the moderate Romney to win the nomination. The sooner the pack is winnowed down to a one on one with Romney the better.
Romney has had a horrible week. A host of flubs and unforced errors have severely damaged him in the polls. Apparently, he has now lost the Iowa caucus. Instead of being 2-0 in the primaries he is 1-1; with the win coming in his virtual home state. He moves into the third contest hemorrhaging support. Forty eight hours ago Romney was rolling. With two primary wins and a huge lead in the South Carolina polls it looked like the nomination was his if he could maintain his lead through Saturday’s vote. Now he has lost his momentum; and the competition is right on his heels.
Santorum is emboldened by an apparent Iowa victory. Gingrich has watched his numbers surge since his outstanding performance in the last debate. Paul is inconsequential. With Perry pulling out it appears that the conservative’s wishes are coming true.
Republican candidates will meet tonight for the 17th debate. This one promises to be very, very interesting.