Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Hampshire Primary Results (Predicted)

Today is the first official primary of the 2012 Election season, with Mitt Romney the prohibitive favorite to win in convincing fashion. Given his residential proximity, his organisational strength, his deep pockets, etc., its difficult for me to conceive that anyone else could pull an upset in the Granite State. While his fellow GOP hopefuls have treated him rather rudely over the last few days, its not goin to matter enough to change anything. I fully suspect Romney wins by a wide margin and then heads South for the January 21st South Carolina primary. With a head of steam and better resources than anyone on the Republican side, the former Massachusetts Governor will be in a position to potentially seal the nomination. If he can place 2nd or better in South Carolina, and then finish first in Florida on the 31st, I say its over. Let the GOP coronation begin...

Credit, I suppose, goes to Jon Huntsman for his commitment to New Hampshire. Mimicking Rick Santorum's approach in Iowa, Huntsman has shown a slight surge after ceding the Iowa caucuses to keep his presence up in the Northeast. Huntsman should do no worse than third tonight, with a possibility of a second place finish not out of the question. I find Mr. Huntsman the most appealing of the Republican field, but he needs a miracle. He has virtually no organisation nationally to speak of, his fundraising is miles behind Romney's, and outside of Utah, most Americans don't really know who this guy is. I can't see him continuing to Carolina if he comes in a weak third or worse. Kind of a shame...

The favorite to come in second is Congressman Ron Paul, who's support is steady but limited in its appeal. There doesn't seem to be a new found sense of connection for the Libertarian, so his ceiling is quite limited. While his supporters are perhaps the most passionate of anyone's, his stances on Foreign Policy turn so many people off that his upside is quite small. He's got enough money to carry on, but he announced earlier this week that he's skipping Florida, because he knows he can't compete against Romney in the Sunshine State. The most lucid analysis I've heard recently about Paul is that he's trying to be heard, trying to secure a high profile speech time at the Republican Convention next Summer and try and elevate his son's (Rand Paul) national standing.

Seemingly locked into a fourth place is the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich who has been the most vocal in attacking front-runner Romney, hasn't gained enough ground in New Hampshire to come in much higher. I think Gingrich is serving a purpose for Romney, in the long term. As Romney has seemingly strolled through the last few months and several debates, having to actually put up his political dukes isn't the worse thing that could happen to him. With the understanding that President Obama is a skilled debater, Romney could certainly use some better competition. Better he works up a good sweat and comes through it intact than is "kid-gloved" all the way until he faces off against the President and wonders what hit him. Gingrich is the best debater of all the Republican candidates, so he's a good foil. Santorum and Paul have taken a few whacks at him as well, but not with the same skill as Newt. Gingrich will be heading South Carolina and probably Florida, but beyond that, his audition for a VP slot and/or a Cabinet assignment seems to be wrapping up.

The surprise second place finisher in Iowa, Rick Santorum went to New Hampshire knowing that his ultra-conservative positions would not play as well there as they had in the Midwest a week earlier. You could make the argument that he would've been smart to do what Texas Governor Rick Perry did, which was to skip New Hampshire and get a jump on the rest of the GOP field by campaigning hard in South Carolina. On the other hand, the media buzz is with the front-runner and Santorum's probably getting more national attention this way than he would've by heading South. I think Santorum could be on the short list of VP candidates. A hard line Conservative would assuage fears from the far Right about a Romney Presidency. I wouldn't say he's the front-runner, but he's in the conversation.

Rick Perry has been in South Carolina since the weekend hoping that his Southern "street cred" serves him well in the Carolina primary on the 21st. His poll numbers are abysmal however with the most recent RealClearPolitics poll showing him in a weak 5th place slot with single digits. In spite of having a good bit of money, with poor showings in the first three States, there won't be any reason to go to Florida. Perry drops out after the South Carolina Primary and heads back to Texas.

In summary, the GOP nomination is Romney's to lose, Gingrich hangs around for at least the rest of January, as does Paul. Huntsman is finished by Florida. Santorum, depending on his finish in South Carolina, might also stick around into February. Perry's toast.



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