Is There a Mitt Romney Ceiling of 25%?

This was the percentage of the vote the former governor received in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, a figure he never superceded in pre-caucus polls nor in the actual vote in 2012. It was enough for a close race but it shows some weaknesses in his bid for the White House. For starters, there are currently three co-equal strains in this year's GOP -- the libertarian/anti-statist wing represented by Ron Paul; the Christian Conservative wing that now belongs to Rick Santorum; and the Establishment/moderate conservative wing that favors Romney. Paul's base is comprised of many young and first-time voters and doesn't seem likely to support Romney (or perhaps any other Republican). The pro-family Santorumites just don't like or trust Romney.

And now, after Iowa, an angry and scorned Newt Gingrich is aiming his guns at the whites of Romney's eyes in South Carolina. Romney could possibly survive the January 21 southern state primary, but it is hard to see how he puts together a severely fractured party. He had a good showing in Iowa, but he ended up having to spend a lot of money, energy, and negative advertising to get to 25% -- which is kind of where he was already.