New Hampshire voted and Republican candidate Mitt Romney won his second primary in a row by a commanding lead of 13-15 points over second place finisher Ron Paul. Iowa runner up, Rick Santorum finished a distant 5th place. Paul, Santorum, Gingrich and Perry have all vowed to stay in the race and go to South Carolina for the next primary.
This is good news for Romney on two fronts.
One, he clearly destroyed the rest of the field in a state that has a primary more akin to the general election compared to Iowa. Two, the conservative Republicans are all staying in the race and divide the conservative vote. This ensures that Romney can win early in the primary season that snowballs into more campaign money for him and more media coverage stating he is the front runner…….which leads to more campaign contributions. It’s the ultimate virtuous political cycle. It’s analogous to why President George HW Bush (40) lost to Bill Clinton when Ross Perot was in the race.
According to the WSJ, South Carolina, which holds its primary Jan. 21, is a different battleground for the Republican hopefuls and not nearly as friendly territory for Mr. Romney as New Hampshire.
Still, he’s up by nearly 11 points, according to Real Clear Politics pollaverage in the Palmetto State.
The next primary after SC is Florida and Romney has a 12 point lead over 2nd place Newt Gingrich at 36 to 24…similar to New Hampshire. Romney leads Obama in Florida (major swing state) 46 to 43.