Associated Press
Virgil and Gladys Sparks use an iPad2 tablet to watch early results of the Republican caucus held in Iowa on Jan. 3, 2012, while sitting at a caucus in Carroll, Iowa.

The following editorial appeared recently in the Dallas Morning News:

As Tuesday's first-in-the-nation caucuses approached, Iowans showed themselves to be an unhelpfully fickle group. During the last few months, GOP voters in Iowa flirted with every candidate not named Mitt, veering frenetically from one to the next as they searched for the anti-Romney.

By the time decision day arrived, many Iowans had come full circle.

They returned to the original front-runner — Romney — and the former Massachusetts governor battled to a photo finish atop the leaderboard in a state once deemed unwinnable for him.

Now, he heads to New Hampshire, a state that appears to be unwinnable for anybody but Romney. His strong showing in Iowa, followed by a New Hampshire victory, would be a 1-2 punch that could give Romney a commanding lead and a potentially unstoppable surge of momentum.

Tuesday's results suggest a somewhat reluctant recognition among many Republicans that the center-right Romney may be the GOP's best hope to win the general election. His pragmatic approach and focus on the economy should be appealing to the broader electorate.

Conventional wisdom says that there are three tickets out of Iowa. Unfortunately, voters awarded two of them to candidates who are out of step with the mainstream GOP in many other states.

Ron Paul and Rick Santorum gained traction during the final days as voters began to run out of options. By elevating the two, Iowa managed to scramble the race even more.

Both Paul and Santorum reside in the extreme-right flanks of the Republican Party, making them long shots for the nomination and potentially unelectable in November.

Their significant shortcomings could have provided an entry for Rick Perry, but his numerous self-inflicted wounds left him foundering in the second tier of candidates. As Iowans got to know the Texas governor, they understandably had misgivings about his lack of preparation, his shifting positions and his aggressive attacks on fellow Republicans.

After imploding during the debates, Perry increasingly appeared to be a desperate candidate. He campaigned with the controversial anti-immigration sheriff Joe Arpaio from Arizona, and, in his latest misstep, suggested that Iowa voters should support him over other conservatives simply because they lacked campaign funds.

If Iowa is any indication, Perry's campaign season should be cut short.