BREAKING: Santorum Pulls Away with 13-Vote Lead

That’s with 88 percent of the counting complete.

The bigger story: Romney’s underperforming his 2008 results in key counties.  Santorum outperforming Huckabee in 2008. 


What does it all mean? 

Conservatives and libertarians dominate the caucuses. 

Romney is the choice of the Republican establishment. The cronies poured millions into his campaign even before he declared himself a conservative.  He’s won endorsements from just about every big name general election loser include Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush. (UPDATE: McCain to endorse Romney tomorrow.)

Yet Romney garnered only 25 percent of the Iowa caucuses (as of this posting). Rick Santorum, an afterthought two weeks ago, leads Romney by 13 votes. Ron Paul is in third with 21 percent. The Professor and Mary Ann and the rest, not so good.

So 75 percent want a non-establishment Republican candidate.

Every candidate except Romney is non-establishment in the voters’ eyes, no matter how you might evaluate their ideologies.

All this means that if the race were between Romney and two non-establishment candidates, Romney would lose.

That’s good news for the GOP and for the  country.

For the GOP because establishment Republicans have a weak record against liberal Democrats in the general.

Good for America because the GOP establishment is largely responsible for Republican loses in 2006 and 2008. And, of course, because the most important mission of a generation is changing who occupies the White House this year.

P.S.  You might hear a lot about the 17th Amendment and Cloture between now and South Carolina.