Lets see how I did...
The Prof's Prediction Actual 2012 IA Results
Mitt 24% Mitt 24%
Paul 22% Santorum 24%
Santorum 15% Paul 22%
Newt 12% Newt 13%
Perry 11% Perry 10%
Bachman 7% Bachman 5%
Not too bad in terms of order, however I greatly underestimated Santorum's surge during the last week of the campaign. It seems that he may end up as the anti-Mitt simply because there are not any alternatives left.
Bear in mind that the Iowa Caucuses are really a statewide straw poll and that delegates (which really matters) will not be allocated for several weeks.
Romney's landslide 8-vote victory is both an over and under performance depending on your perspective and spin. He had a ceiling in Iowa and was not able to exceed it. However a win is a win however narrow and Mitt is glad to have escaped with one. Much of his win is due to organization, $$, and being perceived as the candidate most able to beat President Obama in November. Additionally campaigning for the presidency since 2007 didn't hurt...
Rick Santorum was the real story out of Iowa. Evangelical Christians (a powerful block in Iowa) appeared to have rallied around him over the last few days. His strong finish has yielded strong post-Iowa fundraising and has also focused media attention on him. However, with attention comes increased scrutiny and it is unclear as to how he handles this.
Ron Paul finished strongly, but as stated before may have had his high water mark. He will not be nominated and was the "protest" candidate, drawing many independents. However, his supporters will be critical for the eventual nominee. His candidacy clearly has appeal to libertarian-minded voters - socially liberal, economically conservative and non-interventionist.
Newt had a most disappointing evening and seems to have embarked on a mission to take Mitt down. There has been some speculation that he may try to reach some sort of alliance with Santorum although I have a hard time seeing how this would work logistically.
Rick Perry underperformed and there is continuing speculation that his candidacy is on life support, but he has the money to continue for some time.
Adios Michelle Bachman...a rapid fall from grace and the Ames straw poll victory a few months ago.
Romney needs lower tier candidates, especially Perry to stay in the race when it moves to SC and FL later this month. A continued split in the anti-Romney vote is crucial to him wrapping up the nomination by early March. If Santorum establishes himself as the chief conservative competitor this race may go far deeper into the year.
My money is still on Romney to win this, but he need to do well in SC and win FL for this to wrap up. Otherwise we may see a repeat of the Obama-Hillary contest which was not truly decided until June of 2008. A weak Romney performance will funnel money and support to Santorum (who I think will emerge as the chief competitor.)
NH predictions will be posted in the next day.