Opinion: A Last Look at the Romney 'Slide' in New Hampshire

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney attends a Nashua Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Nashua, New Hampshire, January 9, 2012.

Rick Santorum “won” the Iowa Caucuses by eight votes. We know he did because some votes were misreported on caucus night, and Romney did not get the biggest vote.

Who cares? I tried to get some of the media to talk about that here in New Hampshire, where I am covering the primary (and where I have a second home and spend a lot of time) and doing some research for my classes and book. “Iowa was yesterday,” one well-known reporter said.

Okay, then. Let's look at New Hampshire.

Poll—Friday January 6, 2012

Before the weekend, Texas Congressman Ron Paul was polling second in New Hampshire at 18 percent, trailing behind front-runner Mitt Romney, who has 42 percent of the vote, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll.

Full results:

  • Mitt Romney (42%)
  • Ron Paul (18%)
  • Rick Santorum (13%)
  • Jon Huntsman (12%)
  • Newt Gingrich (8%)
  • Rick Perry (1%)

New Poll—Sunday, January 8, 2012

  • Mitt Romney (35%)
  • Ron Paul (20%)
  • Jon Huntsman (11%)
  • Newt Gingrich (9%)
  • Rick Santorum (8%)
  • Rick Perry (1%)

What will New Hampshire voters do? The tracking poll shows Romney sliding. Is this the Iowa roller coaster all over again? If Romney does not get 40 percent, will that be considered a loss, and the winner whoever comes in a (strong) second? After all, New Hampshire is where Romney is the homeboy.

Mitt Romney — Earn It: Bedford, NH

Ah, but all the polls suggest that Romney will ultimately win anyway. One of my New Hampshire Republican friends said today, “This has the feel of an inevitable and painful surgery, even while taking some medication in the meantime that’s supposed to cure the ill and make surgery unnecessary!”

Wow! I guess then maybe Romney is “the chosen one,” and not Ron Paul, who has been using that biblical reference in his advertisements.

I hate being an analyst! These voters in polls are not behaving themselves and being consistent. It’s not fair to us. They can’t keep changing their minds and driving us crazy guessing what surprise the next poll will have.

On the other hand, it’s very revealing of the division and uncertainty in the GOP as to who likely voters think will best represent them and their party. It really is a remarkable political season.

Romney will be in big doo doo when he has to make public his income tax returns—if the media will ever actually ask for them. Actually, South Carolina will be an interesting contest as the first Southern primary where Newt Gingrich is presumably the local “homeboy.”

Newt Gingrich — Bold, Conservative Leadership

So then the question is whether Ron Paul supporters will vote for any other GOP candidate if theirs drops out of the race—will they turn out for Mitt Romney or just stay at home? Maybe they'll still write-in Ron Paul.

Stay tuned.