Your Guide to the New Hampshire Primary

The big question: How much will Romney win by?
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2012 7:56 AM CST
New Hampshire Primary: How Much Will Mitt Romney Win By?
Mitt Romney, left, campaigns with John McCain during a town hall style meeting in Manchester, NH, Jan. 4, 2012.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Mitt Romney is going to win the New Hampshire primary, and everyone ostensibly knows it. But that doesn't mean the results won't be interesting. Here are the contests the pundits are watching:

  • Romney vs. expectations: With Romney's victory assured, pundits are speculating over his vote tally. One strategist tells Politico he has to hit at least 38%—John McCain's 2008 total. Romney himself managed 32% in that contest, but anything nearly that low would raise serious questions now.

  • Jon Huntsman vs. Ron Paul: This looks to be the battle for second place, and both have invested much here. If Huntsman can bump off Paul, he might get a second look, "but that's a big if," writes Gwen Ifill at the National Journal (Nate Silver agrees).
  • Rick Santorum vs. Newt Gingrich: They're battling for fourth, and the winner might look like the conservative alternative heading into South Carolina. Nationally, Santorum is polling strong, Jonathan Bernstein of the Washington Post points out, so it'll be interesting to see if a New Hampshire dud derails him.
  • The polls vs. the public: New Hampshire polls are notoriously unreliable; Romney should prevail, but everything after him is up for grabs.
  • The Union Leader vs. momentum: Did New Hampshire's influential paper manage to boost the flailing Gingrich?
  • New Hampshire vs. conservatives: If Romney, Huntsman, and Paul combine for 80% of the vote, Bernstein thinks Republicans may decide they have a "New Hampshire problem," with an early-voting state too heavily weighted toward moderates.
(More New Hampshire primary stories.)

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