Wednesday, January 11, 2012

N.H. primary: The aftermath

The sift continues.

The New Hampshire primary did about as much to shake up the Republican race for president as it did to energize New Hampshirites. Citizens trudged dutifully to the polls but didn't reach predicted turnout levels, despite uncharacteristically clear roads and non-snowy driveways. The state just didn't get jazzed up for this one - a reflection, maybe, of the inevitability of a Mitt Romney win.

But New Hampshire, like Iowa, helped eliminate one candidate from the race - even if the candidate won't admit it yet. Jon Huntsman did everything Rick Santorum did in Iowa - pledging his heart to every corner of the state - but he didn't produce the result he needed, finishing third behind Romney and Ron Paul. Huntsman's strategy is to let South Carolina, up next on Jan 21, knock everyone else out and leave him and Romney to fight it out. But Huntsman has neither the money, organization or, as New Hampshire showed, the support to make that happen.

Onward to South Carolina. If Romney, the elite, Mormon, northeastern, establishment candidate, can win in an evangelical, southern, Tea Party state, the nomination is sealed. Paul has put together two impressive second-place finishes, outperforming expectations of everyone but his passionate supporters. But polls show he isn't the second choice of enough voters to take advantage of other candidates falling away.

That leaves the conservative alternatives - Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum - who will go hard at Romney and each other with the kind of harsh politicking that doesn't fly in genteel Iowa and reticent New Hampshire. South Carolina, well, it's different. Says the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza: "The state has a history of, how should we put this, contentious campaigns. (Think John McCain vs George W. Bush in 2000.)"

The NYT's Jim Rutenberg is a little more lyrical - and pointed about the Palmetto State, which he calls: "A place famous for surfacing the dark undercurrents of American politics."

Other New Hampshire reaction:

Politico's Maggie Haberman has six takeaways, including that the GOP will grudgingly have to acknowledge Ron Paul in a big way at its convention.

Her colleague, Dylan Byers, says the media's favorite narrative went splat with Huntsman's third-place finish.

The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes says history is on Romney's side.

And finally, RedState's Erick Erickson wishfully reminds us not to count out Rick Perry.


ncdave77 said...

Still hoping Huntsman's mini-surge isn't too little too late. If he can stick around through a few more departures (Perry, Gingrich), people might start to realize he's there.

Anonymous said...

Huntsman would be the best candidate as far as world politics since he has been the ambassador to China,he would be able to deal with the Chinese quite well!