Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Does It Mean if Romney Wins NH? Nothing.

Much of the right wing press seems to be in a hurry to coronate the not-so-right Mitt Romney as our GOP nominee.  They point to last week's "win" in Iowa (which I actually think was a loss, given Romney actually received fewer votes than in 2008, when he lost to Huckabee, despite 4 more years of campaigning and millions more dollars of ads) and today's likely win in NH.  But winning NH for a Massachusetts politician is really no great achievement.  Since 1952, Massachusetts politicians are 5-1 in NH when not challenging an incumbent President from their own party (Kennedy lost NH to Carter in his insurgent run in 1980).  In fact, in 1964, a write-in campaign for Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts was able to defeat Barry Goldwater in the state.  And remember Paul Tsongas in 1992?  He won New Hampshire on the way to winning only 2 non-New England states.  The only loss for a Massachusetts politician came in 2008 when Mitt Romney inexplicably fumbled the ball on the two yard line, giving the primary to John McCain (who NH voters inexplicably love).  So maybe a NH victory will be an achievement for Romney personally but as a signal that he is the choice of GOP voters?  Not so much.

What will probably be more important than Mitt Romney winning is what happens with the rest of the field (of course if he miraculously loses, all hell will break loose, as would a readout under 31%, his 2008 percentage total when he lost to McCain).  Huntsman really needs to finish at #1 or #2 to save his campaign after completely skipping Iowa (has that strategy ever actually worked?).  I just don't see how finishing at #3 or worse in NH and then getting 1-4% in SC creates a viable campaign.  Santorum and Gingrich pretty much have to have the same endgame, beat the other guy, though I think Santorum has a greater need to do well as he has almost zero organization outside of Iowa (e.g. he wasn't even able to come close in terms of signatures in Virginia).  Anyway, if either finishes behind the other in both NH and SC, they are done and hopefully will quit the campaign allowing for a Romney vs. Paul vs. Conservative not-Romney battle the rest of the way.  What about Perry?  I think he is literally done but probably won't quit until his South Carolina fantasy is finally exposed as nothing other than a wet dream.

My ideal result would be that Huntsman is able to steal enough votes from Romney and Paul (Huntsman is pretty much Paul-lite with his conservative economic, social liberal and foreign policy dove platform) to win in NH.  That would hopefully put an effective end to the candidacies of both Romney and Paul and create a scenario where the GOP wins no matter who gets the nomination.  I would happily support Gingrich, Huntsman or Santorum if they are the nominee (though I favor Newt most of all). 

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