You can just call me the Hammer, because I nailed the Iowa results almost perfectly. Of course now I will suffer for my obvious act of hubris, but I don’t believe that will come in New Hampshire.
This primary has an odd air about it because the overwhelming sentiment is that Mitt Romney will win, but it won’t matter much. The fun will come later in the month in South Carolina and Florida.
So let’s get to the polling and analysis. The latest RealClearPolitics average shows Romney with a large lead over, in this order, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. Here are the specifics from the latest PPP Poll. Santorum has not received a major bounce out of Iowa because he’s far too conservative for New Hampshire and he’s professed some ideas that haven’t sat well with pragmatic New Englanders, like his diatribes against gay marriage. He’s also, well, Rick Santorum, who has some well-publicized issues stemming from when he was a Pennsylvania Senator and those came to light once the press started snooping around.
Ron Paul has his reliable legions who will support him throughout the primary season, so it’s no surprise that he’s in second place. This primary is make-or-break for Jon Hunstman, and I expect that he’ll drop out of the race when he finishes a distant third. Newt will stay in through at least Florida as a pain-in-the-side for Romney now that he’s received a huge infusion of money, and Rick Perry will also drop out after South Carolina when he finishes fourth in a conservative state he otherwise could win. If he wasn’t such a terrible debater, that is.
The only drama I see in New Hampshire is Mitt’s vote percentage. He must, in my estimation, receive above 40% of the vote in New Hampshire in order to meet expectations. If he falls below that threshold, it will be a major embarrassment for him and it will expose him as the second choice to everyone else in the field. It won’t really matter what the other candidates poll. The pressure is on Mitt. If he gets above 47%, then he shows obvious strength with the people who will decide the 2012 race, moderates and independent voters, and will be seen as the presumptive nominee. Having said that, the latest polls show Mitt actually losing some support according to the tracking polls. He began the weekend at around 42%, but has dropped to 33% in the Suffolk/7News Tracking survey released on Monday.
At this point in the race, we need to face some facts: Santorum, Gingrich and Perry are damaged goods and are just saying the most outlandish things in a last-ditch effort to appeal to the far right. Paul isn’t even popular with Republicans, for heaven’s sake, Huntsman never received his bump (and he won’t in South Carolina) and is seen as the other Mormon in the race. That’s America: two, three or four Protestants of any denomination, no problem, but room for only one Mormon.
Leaders of the conservative movement have recently been stepping up their efforts to find an alternative to Mitt, and it looks like the early winner is Santorum. I think they should find a true conservative who’s not in the race, vet them for all of their transgressions and run them as a candidate outside the primaries. That’s their best chance at having a conservative who can be elected. I’ve always thought that there would be a third party candidate in this election and that they would come from the right. This might be the time to start that movement.
The last big issue is the Super-PAC money entering this race from all sides. It’s enabling the field, minus Huntsman, to buy ads in South Carolina that will probably blanket the state for the next two weeks. Most of it will be aimed at Romney, and I’m sure we’ll hear more about how he likes to fire people and how many employees lost their jobs because of Bain Capital.
And now for the stick-out-my-neck-for-the-guillotine moment: Prediction for Tuesday.
Romney 38% Paul 19% Huntsman 16% Gingrich 11% Santorum 10% Roemer 3% Perry 1%
Mitt gets enough to claim a win, but falls short of the 40% threshold. Huntsman leaves the race gracefully, Santorum, Gingrich and Perry move on to the south to make their final stands. Perry leaves after South Carolina and perhaps Santorum does too. Newt stays around because he loves to hear himself talk.
Mother Jones has a Fantasy Primary Predictor here if you’d like to play.
For more, please visit: facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives