Morning Briefing: January 4, 2012

Mitt Romney pulled out a narrow victory in Iowa last night, besting Rick Santorum in the GOP caucuses by just eight votes. Ron Paul made a strong showing in third, followed by Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and then Michele Bachmann. Jon Hunstman did not compete in the state.

2008 Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (AZ) is expected to endorse Romney in New Hampshire today. McCain has long been popular in the Granite State, winning primaries there in 2000 and 2008.

After finishing fifth in last night’s Iowa caucus, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) may drop out of the race. Perry announced last night that he would cancel plans to campaign in South Carolina and return to Texas to “reassess” his presidential bid.

BuzzFeed breaks down how much each candidate spent per vote, showing Perry got a raw deal spending $480 per vote, while Romney spent $156, Paul spent $104, and second-place finisher Santorum got a bargain at $24 per vote.

Exit polls from the Iowa caucuses showed that Romney won support from voters who were the most concerned with beating President Obama in November’s election, while Santorum won the most support from the 47 percent of voters who called themselves “very conservative.” More than half of caucus-goers between the ages of 17 and 29 backed Paul.

New York City police arrested a man who firebombed an Islamic cultural center and four other locations on hate crime charges Tuesday after he confessed to the crimes. The man reportedly had personal grievances at each place he attacked, which, in addition to the cultural center, included a house used as a Hindu temple.

The Federal Reserve is moving to be more transparent as it will now announce borrowing costs and target interest rates. “This is a complete 180-degree shift from the old mysterious-institution approach,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economic research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in New York.

For the first time, the Taliban publicly expressed interest in negotiations with the United States, a “major departure for a militant group that had long said it would not negotiate” as long as American troops are in Afghanistan.

And finally: Iowa has a reputation for being rural, conservative, and nice, but a new funny video which went viral yesterday challenges all of those notions. Watch it here.

For breaking news and updates throughout the day, follow ThinkProgress on Facebook and Twitter.