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Hotline Sort: Mitt's Miniscule Margin of Victory Hotline Sort: Mitt's Miniscule Margin of Victory

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Hotline Sort: Mitt's Miniscule Margin of Victory

4) Virginia Republican Del. Bob Marshall is considering a Senate run, the Washington Examiner reports. Marshall is a conservative who has cultivated a reputation around social issues. If Marshall runs, it could mean increased discussion of those issues in the primary, in which former Sen. George Allen is the frontrunner. 3) After a disappointing fifth place finish in Iowa last night, Rick Perry said he'll return to Texas today reassess his candidacy. That's almost always code for "I'm dropping out." 2) Amazingly, Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucuses by just 8 (!) votes early on Wednesday morning, finishing ahead of Rick Santorum by the slimmest of margins. Rep. Ron Paul finished third. Santorum was the story of the night, morphing from a non-factor for most of the last year of the campaign to finishing with a late surge that propelled him to a virtual tie with Romney. So now what? Santorum gets a ticket out of Iowa, but with Romney -- who is also set to receive an endorsement from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., -- in commanding position in New Hampshire, his best hope may be South Carolina, where fourth place finisher Newt Gingrich has vowed to fight on, and where Romney is also expected to be very competitive. National Journal's Naureen Khan explains why Santorum's honeymoon looks like it will be short-lived:

For a start, Santorum's campaign has only five paid staff in New Hampshire and four in South Carolina. And although fundraising has been on the uptick (campaign aides say Santorum has garnered more money in the last week than in the previous six months, although they declined to cite specific numbers), his war chest is paltry compared to Romney's.

1) Who lost on Tuesday may be even more consequential than who won, adds Ron Fournier:

But over the long term, who lost big in Iowa may matter more than who narrowly won. The two biggest threats to Romney finished out of the running: Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Their donor bases and political standing had made them the most likely candidate to emerge as a conservative alternative to Romney.

Bottom line: Any way you slice it, it's difficult to see a scenario in which Romney is not the nominee. Full caucus results here.

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