The Iowa caucuses may have cleared out some lower-tier Republican presidential candidates, but we are still in the woods and can't see the way out yet.
Republican voters are still not ready to embrace Mitt Romney as their nominee. Seventy percent of Iowa voters wanted someone other than Romney. Rick Santorum's tie for first in Iowa was impressive, but he's spent more time there than anyone else, and New Hampshire, which is more liberal than Iowa, will not be as supportive of his views on abortion and opposite-sex marriage. But after New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida might.
Republicans want someone who can beat President Obama, not another manager of big government. Ron Paul is too extreme and while many like Newt Gingrich and his many ideas, some of them are kooky and could be used by Democrats to undercut him.
Perry has gone back to Texas to reassess. That usually means a withdrawal is coming. Michele Bachmann says she'll stay in it, but she got only 5 percent of the Iowa vote. Ron Paul, who finished third, will press on, but he won't get the nomination. So the race is still muddled.
I'm Cal Thomas in Washington.
Publication date: January 4, 2012