Mitt Romney is running a charmed campaign.
He wins the Iowa caucuses by a mere eight (!) votes, muting the comeback storyline from Rick Santorum. And now Texas Gov. Rick Perry is sticking around to compete in South Carolina, which makes it all the more difficult for Santorum to emerge as the anti-Romney candidate in the wake of his impressive Iowa performance.
Without Perry in the race, Santorum had a credible shot at winning over the state's significant number of evangelicals and social conservatives, as he did in Iowa. Just look at the alternatives: Romney, a fading Gingrich, Paul and Huntsman. For the most conservative voters, Santorum looked like a compelling choice.
But now that Perry is hanging around, he's positioned to perform quite well in the South Carolina primary- or at least well enough to deprive Santorum of victory. Perry was the biggest thorn in Santorum's side in the Iowa campaign's final days, and he'll be fighting with him for many of the same voters in South Carolina, too.