Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, joined by wife Karen, left, addresses supporters at his Iowa caucus victory party Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Johnston, Iowa.

For GOP voters, this must seem like wandering through a showroom featuring only economy-sized cars when what you really want is one of those man-sized Hemi-powered SUVs.

And in the corner of your eye you see that shiny Romney-mobile, but you know it won't go anywhere while you hunt around a bit.

A few weeks ago Mitt Romney wasn't expected to do well in Iowa, but his 8-vote victory Tuesday night was less of a story than Rick Santorum's rise out of nowhere to finish second.

We'll see how long this lasts. Another analogy: The race has been kind of like watching the weather in spring. Stick around a few minutes and it will change — all except for that weak Romney jet stream that won't go away.

Observers are quick to note that Romney seems stuck somewhere in the mid-20 percentile range in terms of support. But so far that is better than any other GOP candidate, as they seem to be taking turns going from little support to the 20s and back down again.

Santorum may hang around longer, and it will be interesting to see how Michelle Bachmann's decision to drop out affects things, not to mention Newt Gingrich's snarly negativism.

Romney, however, is better financed and better organized than anyone else in the field. He has staying power, even if he can't seem to resonate with more than a quarter of GOP voters so far.

John McCain's endorsement this week won't help him much. McCain is too moderate to please the hard-right wing of the party. But the Romney machine may just be well-oiled enough to win anyway.