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New Hampshire appears all but set in granite

Well, my predictions for the Iowa caucuses went pretty well (read: the pollsters got it right), so I guess it's time to go double or nothing on the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. First, let's recap what happened in Iowa.

Iowa caucuses
 My PickActual

That's pretty good, if I do say so myself, and I do. But what does this all tell us, especially heading into New Hampshire?

First and foremost, Rick Santorum is a player in this race. Talk about momentum. While narrowly losing to Mitt Romney in Iowa, Santorum has quadrupled his national polling numbers. That's impressive. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry continue to lag. As I thought should happen, but wasn't sure would happen, Michelle Bachmann is out. Ron Paul continues to be consistently near the top, but unable to break through. To me that leaves the two most interesting candidates right now from a strategic momentum perspective: Romney and Jon Huntsman.

Romney will win New Hampshire. That's not really up for debate. It's to be expected to some degree. As the former governor of Massachusetts, he's virtually campaigning in his own backyard, that is when he hasn't skipped ahead to South Carolina knowing he has the Granite State locked up. But as the consistent front runner, Romney is beginning to take a beating from the rest of the field, well, except for Saturday night's debate, where they all seemed unwilling to really call him out face to face. That being said, Romney's provided plenty of fodder the last couple of days with his comments about worrying about being fired and enjoying firing an insurance company. While it's probably too late for that stuff to have an impact on New Hampshire, but look for the attacks based on it to play well in South Carolina and beyond.

And that's why Huntsman still has a chance.

OK, so Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador, still is polling nationally at only about three percent. But after skipping Iowa, he's about even with Santorum for third place in New Hampshire. Unfortunately for him, he is dead last in South Carolina. But, again, this is a momentum game. If Huntsman can do well in New Hampshire, he may be able to parlay that into more votes in South Carolina and so on, especially if the attacks everyone is firing at Romney start chipping away at his lead. After New Hampshire, you can be sure Romney will start to be attacked with three Ms: Massachusetts, moderate and Mormon. Those will be buzz words used by the other camps to make him less appealing to southern conservatives. Bank on it.

OK, so back to New Hampshire. Here's how I see it shaking out:

-Romney: 38%
-Paul: 20%
-Huntsman: 13%
-Santorum: 12%
-Gingrich: 11%
-Perry: 1%

Don't be fooled by the spread for Romney. Even with it, he still only will have a handful of the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination. Also keep in mind that John McCain beat George W. Bush by 18 points in New Hampshire in 2000 four years after Pat Buchanan won a narrow victory over eventual nominee Bob Dole.

Disclaimer: The opinions I express in this and future blogs is mine and mine alone. Also, nothing I write should be construed as any sort of endorsement of a candidate, party, ideal, issue, etc. These blogs are merely my observations (written as objectively as possible) on the process this country uses to select a president.

By: Kevin Wuzzardo