Unless most Republican voters in New Hampshire have been lying to the pollsters, Mitt Romney will be the winner of the first primary of the 2012 season (don’t forget — Iowa has a caucus, not a primary!). Odds are the results will be in pretty early. No waiting until the wee hours like we did in Iowa to figure out who the winner will be.
But it’s not really going to matter whether he wins New Hampshire. Here are five reasons why:
1. Romney is expected to win. The real news will be about what the margin of victory will be.
2. Lack of enthusiasm. By all measures, the former Massachusetts governor, who owns a home in New Hampshire, ought to be polling at 50 percent or more since he’s essentially the “hometown boy.” Yet, just hours before the polls close, he’s only at about 37 percent. And New Hampshire voters have a pretty independent streak. Who knows how much of that support sticks in the voting booth.
3. Iowa. Romney has been campaigning for president for six years and spent the most money in Iowa. He only beat Rick Santorum by eight votes and Santorum spent the least of all the candidates there. Now, Santorum has a special appeal there for many voters because of his religious views, but if a candidate who’s spent more to win one caucus than the GDP of some small countries, there’s a connection problem.
4. He’s too much like Bob Dole. Remember Bob Dole?
5. George H.W. Bush won New Hampshire in 1992. But he won by a lot less than he was expected to. Bush I and Romney have that New England thing in common, but as we all know, Papa Bush lost to Bill Clinton in that ’92 election, in part, because Bush I didn’t generate much enthusiasm. Maybe if Mitt tried tying the family dog to the car roof again?
I’m betting that Jon Huntsman, who’s pretty much been living in New Hampshire for the last couple of months, will steal a second-place showing from Ron Paul. But just as it doesn’t look like Santorum’s Iowa bump is helping much in New Hampshire, a New Hampshire bump won’t do a lot to convince voters in the deep South, who are leaning toward Newt Gingrich, that a Mormon who speaks Mandarin and sounds like a Yankee is their kind of guy.
So is Mitt planning a big victory celebration in Manchester? If I was his campaign manager, I’d skip the party and get a jump on Florida.