Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Plum Line: New Hampshire Wrap

My New Hampshire wrap is up over at Plum Line.

I should repeat the most important part of it here: I was totally wrong about Rick Santorum in New Hampshire. Right after Iowa, I said Santorum would finish third or better in New Hampshire; as of now, he's looking like he'll be edged out of fourth place, a good eight points behind Jon Huntsman for third. I also over at the Post predicted that Buddy Roemer would beat Rick Perry for sixth, but I'll give myself a mulligan on that one; he came close! And I had Romney's win right (solid, but not 20 points).

What I said then is that the three big questions were: were there really a lot of Republicans eager to find an alternative to Romney; if so, were they okay with Santorum; and, meanwhile, how good a job would Santorum do in scaling up his campaign. So far, the answers seems to be: don't know, don't know, and not very well at all. Santorum somehow or another managed to spend a big chunk of last week arguing about contraception and gays...it definitely wasn't a way to keep his bounce alive.

Still, I agree with Jonathan Chait: it's not at all impossible to imagine Santorum winning in South Carolina next Saturday, and if he does that then even if he loses in Florida he'll most likely be alive until Super Tuesday in March. At which point he would probably -- but not certainly -- lose. The odds for Santorum are certainly worse than they were a week ago, but I'm not ready to call this thing over quite yet.

5 comments:

  1. My previous meta-claims about the Republican nomination process have been:

    (1) The question of the contest is what happens when it is down to Romney, Paul, and a single Not-Romney;

    (2) No one really knows the answer to that question, but my guess is that Romney will win because he will be perceived as the Republicans' best chance to beat Obama.

    I guess I am still standing by all that, but I am starting to wonder if I should first be asking WHETHER this contest will ever get down to just Romney, Paul, and a single Not-Romney. I know history strongly suggests that should be happening sooner rather than later, but I think there is some risk that this time will be different, particularly if people can keep going on with virtually no real organization and most of their financial support coming in the form of "independent" PACs.

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  2. @JP, you need to fix the link in the first sentence of this post. (Cut-and-paste error, scourge of web writers.)

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  3. @Brian, It is a good question whether the race will get down to Romney, Paul, and one not-Romney. That's the situation a lot of movement conservatives want, but it didn't happen in 2008, and this year is shaping up as a repeat.

    In 2008, McCain was the strongest candidate, but movement conservatives (moco's?) thought that Fred Thompson would be their guy. He fizzled, and Huckabee emerged as the main challenger, to the mocos' consternation. Paul stayed in the race, but with a low ceiling. Ironically, Romney was the last conservative pick standing, but he was running a dismal fourth. (A bit more here.

    Since Romney is the movement conservatives' whipping boy this year (instead of their last hope), it seems to be playing out in a similar way to in 2008--fractured opposition allows the non-consensus frontrunner to win.

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  4. MP,

    Almost as bad as typos!

    But: thanks, and fixed, and anyway I should be the last person to give anyone a hard time about typos.

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  5. @JB, not a typo, some other species of mistake. I was trying for empathy as another fallible online writer. I guess I missed the mark.

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