EASTON, Md., January 10, 2012 — While it looks as though former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will take New Hampshire by double digits tonight, the race for second place is heating up. There’s a good chance that former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman may do a “Santorum” and take second place, toppling Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
If the latest polls out today are right, Dr. Paul is in trouble. His hold on second place has been in jeopardy over the last week as Huntsman has climbed out of the basement with numbers like 2 and 3% to as high as 18% in recent days.
New Hampshire Likely Primary Voters:
Romney – 37%
Huntsman – 18%
Paul – 17%
Santorum – 11%
Gingrich — 10 %
Perry – 1%
For Huntsman, New Hampshire is more than a Live Free or Die state: it’s a Thrive or Die state. And if he can knock Paul off from his perch, Huntsman will live to fight another day.
Paul has already indicated he will not campaign in Florida before its primary on January 31, concentrating on states in the West and Midwest like Nevada, which is friendlier territory.
While everyone is focused on tonight’s second place finish, the fact is that Romney is hoping for a really big win, at least walking away with double the number of votes as the next guy. And if Romney scores a win tonight, he would be the first non-incumbent candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, a triumph that could finish off the rest of the field. Sure the losers may limp along into the next primaries, but they will have a hard time gaining any kind of momentum with voters, no matter how many anti-ads they put on the air.
New Hampshire will not prune the field, but it will set up South Carolina as the ultimate test for Rick Perry, Santorum, Huntsman, and maybe even Gingrich. It could become their Waterloo.
So tonight, watch second place and not the winner’s circle, not even if the pundits claim Romney’s win is not big enough because second place is where the ground will be shifting right under the feet of the second and third place candidates, positioning one of them to be the anti-Romney down the road.
Or at least have an important spot at the podium at the GOP convention. And that’s a very important place to be next August.
Join Communities @WashingtonTimes.com Senior Political writers Jim Picht, Catherine Poe, Rich Stowell, Terry Ponick and Gayle Falkenthal as they lead the conversation while watching tonights primary results.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib in the Communities at the Washington Times. She can also be heard on the Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and and online media.
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