UPDATE 1.4.12 (12:01): Rick Perry gives 1st concession speech of life. Not assessing gravity of back surgery & trying to run for presidency looms large.

UPDATE (10:54 pm): NBC News Predicts Ron Paul places 3rd.  Romney team can exhale. Republican establishment & Iowa state boosterism, inspired by threats of extinction, kept Paul from winning. Santorum no Huckabee, because he’s Santorum. But with 110,000 reportedly the total turnout, Republican Establishment has to be shell shocked. They’ll all be counting Chris Christies in their sleep.  As for Obama, he addressed caucus goers, too. However, with Paul’s anti-war support, you’ve got to wonder what a progressive challenger taking the debate to Pres. Obama on his Bush-esque foreign policy might have done.

It’s a big if.

Rick Santorum is now in the center ring, with Ron Paul, well, the Establishment doesn’t like Mr. Paul.

But anyone talking down what it would mean for Romney if he wins Iowa is simply wrong. It would be a campaign coup of their dreams.

Of course, you won’t hear this on MSNBC, with Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell tag teaming Romney’s team on Super PAC ads, Al Sharpton joining in, clearly showing the same old bias of this cable network. Thank the gods Rachel Maddow was playing referee, though she was outnumbered and couldn’t manage to keep the whole segment from turning into a farce.

Of course, that’s not to say Romney’s victory doesn’t begin with the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United, which many of Mitt Romney’s biggest supporters backed enthusiastically.

However, when you’re going to have an interview with a senior Romney adviser Ben Ginsburg, who should be asked about Super Pacs because he was involved in pushing the case that made Super PACS come alive, you could at least do it fairly or at least one at a time, with a panel that isn’t loaded 4 to 1 against conservatives.

Newt Gingrich wouldn’t be squealing if he had a Super PAC, something all good conservative Republicans are never found without at election season. But hearing Chris Matthews now carry his water is an obvious set up, because if you don’t think Democrats would rather run against Gingrich than Romney you haven’t been paying attention.

MSNBC’s amateur hour election coverage isn’t going to cut it.

As an aside, Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” will reportedly not be on CurrentTV tonight, which was tweeted by Brian Seltzer. He’s been AWOL the whole Iowa run-up.

People also want to forget that back in the fall Mitt Romney was seen as not being able to compete in Iowa, not having a prayer. However, running a stealth campaign, his team quietly got his 2004 team up and going and plodded a plan to make some sort of showing.

There’s no love for Mitt Romney anywhere, with whatever excitement there is seemingly on the side of Rick Santorum, according to reports on the ground, which is all I’ve got to go on from the Beltway. We’ll see if they’re right or if the media blows it again.

Just one week ago the big momentum was with Ron Paul. But then the Establishment Republican class started floating to the Iowa GOP and every media source that would suck it up that this would mean the end of their status. Suddenly state boosterism exploded and Mitt Romney started rising, as Paul was getting hit on Iran.

Will pragmatism win the caucus day?

If Mitt Romney wins tonight, that will be one reason why. But it will take a big turn out.

UPDATE 7: 110,000 reportedly the total turnout. Republican Establishment has to be shell shocked. They’ll all be counting Chris Christies in their sleep.

UPDATE 6: Romney takes tiny lead for 1st time: 23.1%, Santorum 22.9%, Paul 22.9% via AP at 9:31 p.m. ET. 25.8% precincts in, via Politico.

UPDATE 5: Santorum 24.1%, Romney 23.9%, Paul 21.9% via AP at 10:03 p.m. ET. 45.5% precincts in.

UPDATE 4: Mitt’s problem? Ron Paul, Iowa, Santorum and Ann Romney trending on Twitter but he isn’t.

UPDATE 3: C-SPAN live streaming selective Iowa caucus counting.

UPDATE 2: CNN final entrance poll results: 24% Paul; 23% Romney; 19% Santorum; 13% Gingrich.

UPDATE: Robert Reich on Twitter: Waiting for the results the #iacaucus is like waiting at the airport for someone you don’t know, don’t care about, and believe is deranged.