Remember Iowa? Nah, me neither. That is the past…old news. Now we are on to New Hampshire, where the Republican nomination for President can either go along the same projected path or take an interesting turn. And how everything is going so far, don’t be surprised at any possible outcome in tonight’s primary.
So, what to look for tonight?
Of course, it is almost certain that Mitt Romney will win tonight’s primary. He has slipped in the polls, but he still maintains a healthy lead. But since the last polling was done, we don’t know how many people might jump the Romney ship after the “I like being able to fire people” remark. Some, like the DNC, are spinning it as the death of Romney. On the other hand, some say that if you listen to Romney’s entire statement, it was taken out of context. Therefore, however people view this view could determine how close the election is. Another factor could be absentee ballots. If a number of people already voted for Romney through absentee, then that might be just enough to help him. Still, absentee voting isn’t as big in New Hampshire as it is in, let’s say, Florida.
Therefore, we have established that Romney will be the winner tonight. But who will be second? If Romney does see a reduction in his vote, expect Jon Huntsman to be the benefactor. Enough defection from Romney to Huntsman could be enough to put him in a close second. If the margin of victory is single digits, expect Huntsman to easily be second. If the victory margin for Romney is over 20%, expect Paul to be second place. Even with that being said, Huntsman still has a great chance of finishing second. In the Suffolk University tracking polls, Huntsman has been showing significant momentum over the past few days. On the other hand, Ron Paul is showing a decline. Even though New Hampshire has a libertarian streak, they also have some sane people. Therefore, Huntsman has a strong chance of being second.
So what about “the man of the hour”, Rick Santorum? Well, after his near-win (or maybe win, we don’t know yet) in Iowa, he only got a little bump in New Hampshire. Yes, he might not be at 3% anymore, but he isn’t much higher. In most of the recent polls, both he and Newt Gingrich have been swapping places. Expect both of them to be hovering around the 10%-12% range most of the evening. If one of these candidates is able to break through into a 3rd place (which is highly unlikely) that will be a story. Still, Santorum could possibly become a non-factor as easily as he became a factor in Iowa by having a less than spectacular showing (which I like to call “The Huckabee Effect”). If any of these candidates finish under 10%, they might be in trouble.
That brings us to Rick Perry. Regarding Perry, I am going to make a very bold prediction. Either tonight or tomorrow, he will drop out and not even be in the race once the GOP primary hits South Carolina.
Why do I say this?
First of all, his numbers in South Carolina aren’t moving at all. For the last month, he has been stuck at 5%. If he can’t win the South Carolina GOP primary, he can’t capture the evangelical vote. And if he can’t capture that vote, he can’t win. The second reason Perry could drop out is that he has a very strong possibility of finishing behind former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer. In four of the last five polls conducted in New Hampshire, Reomer has “out-polled” Perry. Reomer is around 2% while Perry is at 1%. And if Perry only finishes with 1% in a general election swing state and behind a candidate that hasn’t even been in one GOP debate and has no money, not even the best spin doctors will be able to turn that story into gold. Therefore, expect Perry to be done tonight.
Honestly, I am extremely surprised Perry didn’t poll better in South Carolina. But I think all Republican voters have now decided to move forward…they don’t want another George Bush.
So, here is the prediction that I have for tonight:
Romney – 37%
Huntsman – 21%
Paul – 18%
Gingrich – 11%
Santorum – 10%
Roemer – 1%
Perry – 1%
Other – 1%