As expected, Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary, making him the first Republican presidential candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire since New Hampshire became the first in the nation primary in 1976. That’s the good news for Mitt. Now, the rest of the story, according to my ol’ blogging colleague Joy Reid, who I always depend on when I get too busy.
1. No surprises, no thrills. Romney appears to be headed for a good win, but by no means a great one. He’s still under 40 percent of this posting — the same level John McCain got in New Hampshire in 2008 and about 6 percentage points better than Romney did back then — and even if he hits that magic number, he does so in a state he was always supposed to win (he was the governor next door.) Had Romney rocked the house, say, with 50 percent or better, he’d look like a stronger likely nominee tonight. As It stands, the turnout doesn’t look like its going to be overwhelming, and Romney is probably just happy to be above 25 percent. By the way, the likelihood is growing every day that Romney will feel compelled to name what Chris Matthews would call a “red hot” — think Sarah Palin 2008. — to be his base mollifying running mate. Fear the future.
With 66 percent of precincts reporting its:
2. Mitt’s 99 percent coalition. So far, exit polls show Romney’s voters were the elderly, independents (who made up 47 percent of primary voters – nearly matching the 49 percent registered Republicans)… people whose main concern is the economy, tea partiers (read: elderly) and rich people. Not exactly the working class white voters the GOP has become increasingly dependent on, but hey, that’s New Hampshire. However, Romney’s shtick about “envying success”may not go down as well as he thinks among people outside his relatively well off core supporters. A lot of blue collar white folks have felt burned by crony capitalist slicksters, too. Not saying they’d vote for Barack Obama, but Romney is going to need a better answer for the House of Bain revelations than President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial, and so do my opponents.
3. Newt and Perry miscalculated. Hitting Romney on his corporate raiding at Bain may have made great TV, and the Obama campaign team surely enjoyed it, but as a way to win over movement conservatives, e strategy could prove to be a mistake. Sure, regular Joes will relate to the message and it could sour them on Mitt, but the attacks failed to stop Mitt in New Hampshire, didn’t help Newt, and may have alienated Newt and Perry from conservative opinion leaders oversize in a position to bolster either candidate for the next big contest to come, in South Carolina. Seeming to be “against capitalism” is no way to make friends with Rush Limbaughisms and Fox News.
4. Jon Huntsman is done. This has always been true, but it can’t be said enough. Now that Hunts got beat in the one stae he really campaigned in … By Ron Paul, maybe my media friends will stop dreaming that dream and let Captain Beefheart go.
5. The only real anti-Romney candidate is Ron Paul. He’s the only one with a significant constituency that’s distinct from Romney’s. Mitt beat two Catholic candidates — Gingrich and Santorum – among Catholics; he won tea partiers and indies, and he’s still got those old folks. There’s a third party opportunity for Paul in November if he wants it. Now the only question is, does he want it, or would he rather try to influence the platform and pave the way for Rand.