Mr. Romney gains over 100 delegates this week to sit at 1051; Mr. Gingrich loses over 350 to sit at 550. Mr. Santorum gain over 200 this week to sit 251. Dr. Paul goes up a bit to 184 and Mr. Perry slips to 79. In short, Mr. Romney is just a few votes vote of avoiding a brokerages convention so if things keep on their current path he shall be the nominee, but if there is a bump in the road for him, we might be looking at a brokerage convention, but I am certainly not predicting that.
My model for New Hampshire shows Mr. Romney with about 40 to 41%, Dr. Paul gets 18 or 19%, Mr. Huntman cracks the 15% mark. Mr. Santorum cracks the 12% mark and Mr. Gingrich is at 10 or 11%. We have a definite front-runner now with 3 and half candidates in the race. Mr. Huntsman and Mr. Perry are not going anywhere fast. Going into South Carolina, Mr. Romney will essentially have a win and a tie with momentum in SC. While mathematical, NH is the win and Iowa is the tie. In term of the expectation games, if Mr. Romney does not crack 40% in what is essentially home ice (home field) it won’t be considered a huge win. On the other hand, even though winning by a few votes in not impressive, the fact that undecided voters came to the Romney camp in Iowa on the eve of the caucus is at least a victory in the expectations game. In 2008, many then Romneyites complained that SC was neither a typical American state nor even a typical Southern state. Too many Ethnic votes on the coast and too many Independents voting, some claimed. As Mr. Romney appears to be benefiting from a band-wagon effect for now, the current Romney camp is quiet with regards to South Carolina’s iniquities. Whether Mr. Romney win SC by a decent margin, win by a rather small margin or loses by a small, unless he has a meltdown within the next few week, he will at least do respectable enough to maintain some sort of momentum as we approach Super Duper Tuesday.
Mr. Romney got to where he is more by gaining undecided and soft voters than by having supporters of other candidates join his camp yet in large numbers. Mr. Santorum got to where his is to a large degree by gaining former Bachmannites and Gingrichites. However, there are not a whole lot of Bachmanns left to leave the race and at least for now, it does not look like what is left of the Gingrich camp will flock to Mr. Santorum in large number. Perhaps one of the more interesting polls was a PPP poll showing that Mr. Romney beating Mr. Santorum 45-40 in South Carolina. Yes this is one poll and one state and things are still rather fluid, but in short it suggested that if Mr. Gingrich would leave the race, Mr. Santorum would close the gap with Mr. Romney, but Mr. Romney would still have a slight lead. Furthermore, I’d assume that Dr. Paul would stay in and continue to get his 15%. So the big question is when will Mr. Ginrich be out of the race and where will his supporters go. In short, Mr. Romney remains in a good position (in fact a better position) on one hand. On the other, it is becoming clear that Mr. Santorum is becoming the candidate that will challenge Mr. Romney for now if you will. Mr. Santorum’s poor numbers in NH should not prevent him from doing decently beyond NH. His lack of money and organization did not hurt him in Iowa. In fact, he beat expectations and is now benefiting from a mini-surge. Eventually, he is likely to run out of steam. However, he is having a fun ride for now and his national numbers are still trending upward for now.
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