As our own Bryan Preston reported earlier today, Texas Governor Rick Perry has announced he’ll stay in the race. That’s somewhat of a surprise. Most people, including myself, had expected him to drop out after his poor performance in Iowa yesterday.

The question now is: who benefits from Perry’s decision?  Well, the first answer is, of course, the governor himself. He at least gives himself another shot at winning. That’s worth something. However, there’s another “winner” and his name isn’t Newt Gingrich.

I am, of course, talking about Mitt Romney. The strategy of Mittens, as AllahPundit loves to call him, is based on “divide and conquer.” At the very moment the campaign develops into a horse race between two candidates, he’s somewhat vulnerable. After all, the conservative base isn’t exactly enamored by the man they consider to be a flip-flopper and “Massachusetts moderate” (at best).

The longer Perry stays in, the more the “conservative base” will be divided. And the more divided it is, the easier it will be for Romney to win this thing. In other words, he just gave Romney a wonderful (but belated) New Year’s present.

There is  a “but,” though. If Perry pulls off an unexpected win in, say, South Carolina, he will suddenly pose a threat to Romney because he will then be able to present himself as the (social) conservative alternative.