Pretty much everyone did as expected in NH, which means it registers as a yawner.  It would have been news if Romney tanked in a state that was his to lose, if Paul had lost momentum, or if Huntsman did either really well or really poorly. 

NH is liberal by GOP standards, so it’s no great surpise that the Moderate Mormons grabbed 56% of the vote (as opposed to less than half that in Iowa).  More interestingly, the Tea Party candidates (Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann) got just 21%, compared to 53% in Iowa.  But the upcoming primaries will be in the core GOP area, the South.

A lot of analysis, including some of mine, has assumed that the fight is between Romney and Not Romney.  And a credible solitary Tea Partier might have readily beaten Romney.  But I think it’s clear that it’s a three-way fight, the third force being Paul.  Though Paul like all the other Republicans is itching to plunge us back into recession only this time with no social safety net, he’s a heretic to Tea Partyism in other ways and is not the Not Romney they’re looking for.

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