IOWA -- After all of the speeches, debates and town halls over the last year, the Hawkeye State has spoken.
The Republicans chose former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the winner of the Iowa caucuses, with just eight more votes than former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
If the Iowa caucuses are any indication of how the 2012 presidential race is going to go, hold on to your seats.
Both Romney and Santorum gave victory speeches on Wednesday.
"You are working, and I am working, and I am working and we are all working together because of our passion for this country," Romney said.
Santorum, mindful of his virtual photo-finish with Romney, told his supporters it was "game on" for his party's nomination.
But ask anyone in Iowa and you'll know the real winner is Santorum, who told CBN News he felt the hand of God the whole way.
"God has given me the grace to have what I needed, to continue to persevere and just trust in Him and He's blessed our family. He's blessed me, and I just feel very, very grateful for the opportunity he's given me," he said.
Add to that the sweat equity. Santorum went to all 99 counties before anyone else did, and he held 381 town halls.
Romney held steady and finished at the top, even though he wasn't originally going to play in Iowa. Supporters think he is the candidate who can beat President Obama.
"I really think he just gives a stronger, more defined dynamic presentation," said Iowa voter Davon Ebert.
"My focus is pretty much on the economics of this country and jobs and turning this country around," Iowa voter John Tone told CBN News.
What's next for Romney and Santorum? Dr. Paul Bonicelli, executive vice president of Regent University, addressed that question and more on CBN News Channel Morning News, Jan. 4.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who finished a strong third, told CBN News he will take a look at how to move his campaign to the next phase.
"I'm not very good at predicting exactly what will happen in politics and elections and all, but I happen to think that a lot more people are interested in moving the direction that I want to go," he said.
"But as far as predicting goes, I'm just very happy about where we are today," Paul added.
Former frontrunner Newt Gingrich was forced to the middle of the pack.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Texas Gov. Rick Perry were hoping for an upset, but it just didn't happen. The evangelical voters of Iowa came together behind one candidate, and that was Santorum.
"The conventional wisdom, which is that evangelicals vote for the person who attends the church most like theirs, talks most like them, believes mostly what they believe, is being shattered here tonight," said Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition.
Santorum is Catholic and has been a long-time champion of social conservative issues. He told CBN News it's that record he will carry on now as he heads to New Hampshire, South Carolina, and beyond.
Meanwhile, fresh off of his Iowa win, Romney has picked up a key endorsement. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is set to announce his support for Romney in New Hampshire Wednesday.
Meanwhile Perry, who finished fifth, said he's returning to Texas to reassess his campaign.
Although Bachmann finished last, she's staying in the race. The Minnesota congresswoman said she's the only conservative who can beat Obama in November.
The next big test is the New Hampshire primary, Jan 10 - less than one week away.