- Republicans Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum each got 25 percent of the ballots cast in the Iowa Caucuses
- Analyst: The split we saw in Iowa between Santorum and Romney is a familiar one
- The long-running selection process culminates at a national party convention later in the year
America's Republicans held their first actual vote for a presidential candidate this week, setting the table for what may now be a choice between two men as different as beer and wine.
"This is a Budweiser Republican who's going to contrast with a Chablis Republican," said party strategist and CNN analyst Alex Castellanos.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum each got 25 percent of the ballots cast in the Iowa caucuses, an evening of votes across that small mid-western state which start the long sequence of state-by-state elections known as the "primaries."
The process culminates at a national party convention later in the year that will formally choose the Republican nominee to take on Barack Obama in the presidential election in November.
Romney was declared the winner in Iowa by a margin of just 8 votes, out of more than 122,000 cast -- the closest caucus result that Iowa's ever had.
To be fair, he isn't really a Chablis man; he's a Mormon, whose faith prohibits strong drink.
But as a former state governor and millionaire corporate executive whose father was also a state governor and millionaire corporate executive, Romney has come to represent the traditional elite of the Republican Party. His campaign has benefited from enormous financial support from party donors.
By contrast, Santorum stresses his own heritage as the grandson of a coal miner and the son of an Italian immigrant. Until his surprise success in Iowa, he ran a thread-bare campaign with a tiny staff and modest donations.
"The split we saw in Iowa between Santorum and Romney is a familiar one," said analyst Bill Schneider.
"Romney won what I call the country club conservatives -- the wealthier, the older, the more prosperous, established conservatives in the Republican Party, who usually win the nomination. Rick Santorum won the evangelical voters, the hard-core conservatives who see themselves as the anti-establishment."
The two men aren't the only ones left in the race. It continues with several other candidates competing as well in a primary in the state of New Hampshire next week and then many more primaries in the months to come.
But Romney has been so polished and well-prepared that the Republicans have wondered if anyone could stop him.
Now, it seems they have a new alternative they might pour and consider.