Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GOP Nomination Standings: Onward toward SoCarl

New Hampshire was pretty much decided before the votes were even cast in the Republican race to become that party’s nominee for President. Barring a colossal upset, Mitt Romney was going to win his New England backyard and he needed a big win to move the ball forward after squeaking out a barn burner in Iowa. His win was indeed huge, and Romney became the 1st non-incumbent Republican to capture both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Here are the numbers with 95% of the votes counted so far:
Mitt Romney: 95,669 39.4%
Ron Paul: 55,455 22.8%
Jon Huntsman: 40,903 16.8%
Newt Gingrich: 22,921 9.4%
Rick Santorum: 22,708 9.3%
Rick Perry: 1,710 0.7%
Buddy Roemer: 918 0.38%
Renegade Candidate Ron Paul finished significantly higher than expected with a huge influx of independents and young people turning out for the extreme libertarian. Paul has claimed to be in this race for the long haul and will take each delegate he collects to the convention. You can bet his supporters will be as disruptive as possible to the eventual establishment nominee. His post-Primary speech was rife with energy and his followers took over trending topics on twitter for a time last night. Enthusiasm is never a problem with Ron Paul voters.
Jon Huntsman had a respectable showing in 3rd place with 16.8% of the vote, but there are big questions of where the former Ambassador can make his next stand after putting so much effort into New Hampshire. Unlike Paul, he has not been cultivating much of a national base of support, and although he has vowed that his ticket has been punched to South Carolina, I can’t see him making much of an impact among the Southern voters there.
The two men most likely to still unite a Conservative challenge to Romney’s nomination both came in a little bit under expectations last night with Newt Gingrich finishing in 4th place with 9.4% of the vote, and Rick Santorum sliding in right behind him at 9.3%, only a few hundred votes separating the two. It is actually good news for Romney that neither of these candidates were able to even top Mike Huckabee’s totals from 2008 in this race.
Rick Perry meanwhile was persona non grata in the Granite State. He couldn’t even crack the 1% mark and for all his Texas oil millions, he barely squeezed out a margin about virtually unknown candidate Buddy Roemer from Louisiana. It seems like all momentum seeped out of the Perry campaign months ago with an unreal amount of debate gaffes. He is now a shallow hull of a candidate, only being propped up by leftover funds from the period when he entered the race with tons of energy and cash influx. Don’t expect to see him in this race much longer.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

GOP Nomination Standings: New Hampshire Primary day

Today the rubber hits the road in the New Hampshire Primary.

From what I can see so far, this State is definitely Mitt Romney's to lose. Coming off a razor thin win in Iowa against the surprisingly surging Rick Santorum, Romney certainly needs a more significant margin of victory to solidify his status as front runner coming out of the Granite State. The word “inevitable” is starting to find its way around Romney’s path to the nomination, but no matter how well he does in New Hampshire, he will not be able to sow things up in this 1st in the nation primary.

The Anti-Romney forces have pretty much conceded the New England early battleground to him, and plan to make their last, best pitch to the much more stridently conservative citizens of South Carolina. Rick Perry is already there, hoping that some Southern Home Cookin’ will suit him better than the bitterly independent residents of small town Bedford, Berlin, and Barrington.

Jon Huntsman has staked almost his entire campaign on New Hampshire and a poor showing here would all but sink his aspirations for the Oval Office. He has had a bit of a mini-surge recently, but his followers hoping for a Santorum-in-Iowa like showing are probably not basing their expectations within reality.

Speaking of Santorum, he has ridden the wave of momentum coming out of his stunning surprise in the Hawkeye State with some savvy, raising quite a bit of cash which is like lifeblood to these campaigns, but New Hampshire is not exactly fertile ground for his brand of conservatism. Mike Huckabee won Iowa outright in 2008 on the back of evangelicals, but couldn’t crack 11% in this primary. Santorum should expect about the same number. He needs to somehow convince a lot of Newt Gingrich supporters that he is actually their man to beat Romney in South Carolina in order for him to extend the contest much further.

And of course Ron Paul is going to be in this thing for the long haul. I am more and more convinced his strategy is not to win the nomination outright, but to force the eventual nominees hand by collecting enough delegates to get some of his stridently held ideals into the platform for the General Election. We shall see if the hardline libertarian handcuffs the Republicans or opens the gates to infuse the enthusiasm of his demographically dissimilar base into the usually staid convention halls of the Grand Old Party.

It should be an interesting night to watch the results come in, not so much for the eventual winner, but to see who the real losers are. At this point it is all about  fundraising, media spin, and campaign narrative as the actual delegate count will be rather insignificant from this early race.
Here are the numbers I expect to see, and if any of these candidates come in +/- 5% or more from the expected # it can be spun as a big win (or loss) for their campaign:

Mitt Romney: 40%
Jon Huntsman: 18%
Ron Paul: 16%
Rick Santorum: 11%
Newt Gingrich: 10%
Rick Perry: 2%