The point of the Iowa Caucus is not to crown a winner in the primary, it is to weed out those who are undeserving of going on.
Iowa voters reward credibility, hard work, experience and desire. They punish stupidity, laziness and disorganization.
Mitt Romney's will, albeit by 8 votes, is significant because it sets him up to sweep the first two states. That is no easy task. Ask Barack Obama or George W. Bush.
Rick Santorum's pure desire in visiting all 99 counties at least once and never giving up even when the polls had him outside the margin of error showed Iowans that he has the fortitude it takes to at least go on in the process.
Ron Paul's enthusiastic supporters and his unique positions earned him a very respectable vote total. He won 18 counties and finished a strong 3rd. That's pretty darn good for someone who the party officials keep trying to throw away. 30+ years in politics have taught him to be genuine and consistent. Those are values Iowans appreciate.
Newt did not perform very well, finishing with half as many votes are Romney and Santorum respectively and pretty far behind Congressman Paul. He was punished for a lackadaisical Iowa effort and being arrogant. He declared that he would be the nominee more than a week before the Caucuses took place. Voters took note of that and swiftly humbled Newt.
Perry was a disaster. His campaign will go in textbooks as an example of what not to do. He was not personally invested in the campaign to begin with, having to be pressured into the race in the summer. His debate performances were terrible, his attacks were flat and poorly executed and his campaign never articulated any meaningful policy positions other than drill baby drill. Iowa weeded him out.
And nobody was more humiliated than Michelle Bachman. She is a sitting C0ngresswoman from a neighboring state who was raised in Iowa. She has family and friends in the state and spent a lot of time courting voters there. She was the lone woman in the race, and someone with a very interesting life story. Despite all of that, she was utterly rejected by Iowans. Her 6th place finish with little more than 5% of the vote in her home state just a few months after she won the Iowa Straw poll is a total disaster and a campaign-ender.
So, Iowa did what Iowa does. Six entered, four left. Huntsman will try to play a role in New Hampshire, but he may only serve to extinguish Newt Gingrich's chances of a top 3 New Hampshire finish. Iowa Republicans kicked the tires, poked the candidates, punished the mistakes and rewarded the candidates with the best potential to represent the party well in the rest of the primaries and the general election.
The best example of why Iowa should be first in the nation with a result was last night at about 2 AM Chicago time. CNN was frantically looking for the one outstanding precinct that would decide the election and Wolf Blitzer finally got Edith Pfeffer, Clinton County Republican Chairwoman and her friend Carolyn Tallet, President of the Clinton Country Republican Woman on the phone. They gladly took the questions and reported the results live on CNN. Anyone listening could tell that these two older women, talking in a typical Iowan twang that would remind any of us of our loving grandmothers or mothers, took their responsibilities very seriously. Edith even had her vote totals written down on a piece of paper probably sitting on her kitchen table just in case they would be needed. People like Edith and Carolyn are what make democracies work. They never get any appreciation or media attention for organizing their community, yet they do it without complaint. They find election judges to oversee the voting process when the task of recruiting is not easy. Without them, Iowa would not be able to do what it does. It would not be able to filter the candidates and refine the field.
It's down to the final 5 thanks to Iowa. New Hampshire, you have our attention.