Although the Iowa caucuses are the first in the nation, and do not necessarily predict who will win the presidential nomination, they do tend to act as a sieve, sifting the field, and that is exactly what is happening in the wake of Tuesday’s balloting.

Top vote-getter Mitt Romney squeezed past the second-place finisher Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes while Ron Paul collected 21 percent of ballots cast.

Trailing the top three candidates were Newt Gingrich with 13 percent, Rick Perry with 10 percent, Michele Bachmann with 5 percent and Jon Huntsman with 1 percent.

The results forced Sen. Bachmann to bow out of the presidential race, and sent former Texas Gov. Rick Perry back home to reassess his campaign.

But for African Americans, the result of the Iowa Republican Caucus simply means that there will be a very conservative Republican running against President Barack Obama in the fall, says the head of the Morehouse College political science department Tobe Johnson, Ph.D.

“If the results of the Iowa Caucus plays out (nationally) and Rick Santorum is successful, there are important implications for African Americans,” continued Johnson.

The political science professor is referring to comments Santorum made during his Iowa campaigning about African Americans and so-called entitlement programs. He was quoted as saying “I don’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

National Urban League President Marc Morial assailed Santorum’s comments and suggests they were made to pander to racists elements in the electorate.

“Sen. Santorum is perpetuating a thoroughly false and destructive racial stereotype in a desperate attempt to score political points,” Morial said. “He is appealing to the lowest common denominator within the electorate and quite frankly should be ashamed of himself.”

Morial said the senator’s comments were particularly hypocritical when Santorum himself, while earning more than $162,000 as a U.S. Senator and living in a $643,361 home, admitted in 2005 that he could not make ends meet without financial help from his retired federal employee parents.

“No one in the race presented us with any surprises,” said Professor Johnson of the Iowa campaign. “They all simply confirmed the orientation of the major Republican candidates toward African Americans or ‘urbanites,’ which is the code word for Blacks.”

As attention now turns to upcoming New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida primaries, Johnson believes that Romney is a shoe-in to take New Hampshire. But he predicts that whether or not Santorum goes further in the race for the Republican nomination will depend on what happens in South Carolina, because it is one of the most conservative primaries.

Looking down the road, Johnson said in order for President Obama to fare well against an expected conservative Republican, his approval rating among Whites must increase from its current 38 or 39 percent to 45, 46 or 47 percent, and the economy must improve by mid-June or July.

Additionally, Johnson added that Obama’s performance on the campaign stump and in any presidential debates will also play a key role pulling in independent voters.